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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere.  To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team.  We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway).  The 2009 Brewers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Chuckie Hacks.

1) 34 home runs?  Seriously?  Fielder has to hit more home runs in 2009.  Doesn’t he?

In 2007, 34 home runs was good enough for 8th in the NL. Not terrible, but not what many people expected out of Prince Fielder last season. You would expect a bomber like Prince to be in the top 5 of NL home runs. But we must remember, he is still a young pup. He will only be 24 on Opening Day 2009. He is still prone to the ups and downs of a young ball player and Prince is known to be hard on himself when he slumps, further dragging out the slump. Prince had 84 walks last season, which is good, but with turds like Corey Hart and Bill Hall batting behind him, he isn’t going to see a ton of good pitches. Sometimes, often during key at bats, he tries to kill the good pitches he gets and often fouls them off or swing through them. Prince is usually hitting his best when he has controlled swings and not trying to hit bombs all the time. The big wild card this year is going to be his arbitration hearing. That could be brutal. Doug Melvin has always signed guys and has never gone to a hearing. With Boras as his agent and based on the stink Prince raised last year, a hearing seems inevitable. Prince is a pretty sensitive guy. When word filters back to him that the Brewers focused on his ever increasing weight, his terrible defense and his drop in production in 2008, he will become moody to the outside world. However, Prince has also used doubters as motivators in the past. He (and Boras) know he is a gunning for a big contract with the Yankees following the 2011 season. I have a feeling Prince turns it around this year and hits 40+ bombs.. Part of this is based on the fact that he won’t be on the magnetic schedule given away at Opening Day, thus avoiding the magnetic schedule curse that has been hanging around this franchise. My other hope for Prince this year is that somebody other than ChooseVeg.com sponsors his Baseball-Reference.com page. It should be sponsored by that new bacon and cheers chalupa at Taco Bell.

2) Carlos Villanueva or Manny Parra, who has a better 2009?  Why?

It’s tough to say who is going to have a better year since one is a starter and one is a reliever.  Both played full seasons last year but their seasons went along different paths..  Parra started out relatively strong but hit a major wall in the 2nd half and was ineffective down the stretch.  Villanueva started out the year in the rotation but ended up with a demotion to the bullpen…where he had an extremely productive 2nd half.  I’m going to have to say that if he stays healthy, Parra is going to have the better 2009…at least from an average fan’s perspective.  He’ll be able to push his innings up to the 180-200 (again…if healthy).  With his stuff and the Brewers offense giving him support, he could become a 15 game winner.  Even though Villanueva will be one of the primary set-up men and an effective contributor (which can’t be overlooked) Parra will be seen as a better pitcher in the public eye.  Maybe he is.

3) Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar, which are you most excited about?  Do we see either in 2009? If so, when?

I like what both guys bring to the table (Gamel hits bombs, Escobar has a ridiculous glove) but in the Show the guys that get paid the big bucks are the guys that RAKE.  That’s what Gamel can bring to the table and that’s what I’m excited about.  In two years (or 6 months) when Prince Fielder is no longer on the team it’s going to be nice to plug in Gamel in the cleanup spot behind Braun as a left-handed power threat.  As for when we’ll see both guys, 2009 might not be the year for them.  First, Escobar hasn’t played an inning of AAA ball…and Gamel got only 5 games in there last year (and he was injured).  They both need their AAA reps…particularly Escobar so his bat can continue to develop to compliment his glove.  Only a significant injury to either JJ Hardy or Rickie Weeks will get Escobar to see MLB action this year (excluding September of course).  Gamel might play himself into the 3rd base spot, ala Ryan Braun in 2007 & Russell the Muscle in 2008.  If Gamel starts out destroying AAA ball with his bat…and the painfully mediocre 3rd base platoon of Bill Hall and Mike Lamb don’t do anything special…Gamel might get the call.  We’ll see how he does in Spring Training.

4) Suppose you work at All-State Insurance, Rickie Weeks comes in for a policy.  Do you insure him for 2009?  If yes, does he break his wrist wiggling the pen as he prepares to sign the policy?

It depends upon what type of insurance he’s looking for.  If it’s health insurance, I’d say he’s worth insuring.  He has had the wrist problem and the thumb problem, but those seem to be freaky injuries.  Maybe he doesn’t get a premium rate, but he’s not Ben Sheets.  However, if it was insurance against another season of sub-.240 batting average and terrible fielding percentage, or insurance against bad double play turns at 2B, I’d be leery.  Everybody thinks that the Willie Randolph hire will have a great impact on Weeks and that he’ll be a huge influence over his play, but we as Brewers fans have been reading the “Weeks is ready for a breakout” stories for 3 years now.  I’m skeptical, at best.  And I’m a Ricky supporter.

5)  Crap is to toilet as Dave Bush is to ___  A) Road games  B) The Brewers Staff  C) Trick question, you can’t flush away Dave Bush.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — “Over his last 18 appearances (17 starts), Bush went 7-3 with a 3.23 ERA, including a 4-0 mark and 2.12 ERA in five starts in August. He finished the season with a 1.14 WHIP (walks and hits per inning), the fifth-best mark in the National League.”

Hey, that’s something I might be interested in. Dave Bush is never going to be a #1 or #2 starter. He is not going to dominate every time out like Sabathia did. Dave Bush will have games where he gives up 4 runs in the first.. Dave Bush will have games where he cruises for 5 or 6 inning and then starts unraveling. This is where Ken Mach and Bill Castro need to pick up on the warning signs and get Bush out of there as soon as possible, Dave Bush is not poo. Crap was when the Brewers were trotting out guys like Wes Obermueller, Wayne Franklin and Matt Kinney to make 30 starts a season. Bush will be decent. Just look at him as a younger, slightly better and significantly cheaper Jeff Suppan. I vomited a bit in my mouth there.

  1. Freak says:
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    This guy is waaaaaaaay too optimistic.

  2. Eric W says:
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    @Freak: I would be optimistic too if my team just got rid of Eric Gagne

  3. big o says:
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    i’m so sick of that “i vomited a little in my mouth” crap.
    DO YOU SWALLOW ? !!

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Freak: Parra late is worth a flier, Fielder should bounce back, and the other positivity…. Well, they just got rid of Gagne.

    @big o: Wow, that’s it takes for you to use the caps button?

  5. Hogleg says:
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    Nice write up on the Brew Crew. I think Gamel will see Milwaukee by summer time…Escobar is more like a 2010 guy even if Hardy is injured. Escobar’s glove work is sick but he needs to see some pitches in AAA this year.
    Even with the loss of LaPorta you gotta like their top 3 prospects of Gamel, Escobar and Angel Salome in the line up in 2010.

  6. Just doing a shout-out to Chuckie Hacks for putting down his Bratwurst and Old Milwaukee to answer our questions.

    Fielder and Braun are as good of 1-2 as there is in the game right now. But that pitching staff….bleh….Parra’s minor league stats were awesome but he’s never going to see the 7th inning if he throws that many balls…

  7. big o says:
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    @Grey:

    i really DO hate society .
    no apologies .
    rousseau’s “social contract” <=== the epitome of understatement .

  8. Steve says:
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    @Grey: @Rudy Gamble: Would like to return to the subject of risky pitchers for a moment if that’s OK.
    There I was, mocking away. Things were going nicely enough (except for taking Tulo in the 7th instead of Drew, but that’s another story) as we moved into the 8th when a Razzballer’s thoughts turn, not unnaturally, to starting pitching.
    But what’s this? The only guy left on the board that I’d want as my No.1 starter is Ervin Santana. Whooop! Whooop! Risk Alert!
    This paucity of pitching possibly wouldn’t happen in ‘real life’ as there were a lot of computer picks involved – but do you take him?
    I did take him, as it happens and was able to back him up with Wainwright, Cain and Derek Lowe. Did that mitigate the risk, or should Erv be avoided at all costs?

  9. @Steve: I think you’d want one pitcher on that list maximum – but preferably as a 4th-6th starter. I’d much prefer Ervin than Myers or Dempster though. I really just picked Ervin b/c of the high breaking ball % which is a good but not great indicator (if he also had a pitch spike, I’d steer clear completely…)

  10. Doug Ault says:
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    Cecil Cooper used to scare the hell outta me,but I was a huge Beany and Cecil fan as a kid………If the Brew Cue had Nikki Sixx pitching they’d be dangerous, I luv em this year

  11. Mark says:
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    Fielder isn’t really thinking pinstripes is he? How in the world can the Yankees pay a gazillion dollars to a guy who will be a DH?

    Fielder would make a ton of sense for the Red Sox though who need a replacement for David Ortiz in two years.

  12. @Mark: That makes more sense given the M-Teix deal. I wouldn’t invest too long-term in a fat 1B. They fade a lot quicker – remember Mo Vaughn? Phillies were smart to sign Howard to only a 3-year deal…

  13. sean says:
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    I don’t know where I stand on the Prince issue. With the relatively low number of pure mashers out there, I think you have to take the leap and hope that he’s back to 40+ in that ballpark…

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