Additions: Trevor Hoffman, Braden Looper, Jorge Julio, R.J. Swindle, Chase Wright, Craig Counsell (re-signed), Joe Koshansky, Casey McGehee, Chris Duffy, Chris Capuano (re-signed), Wes Littleton. Midseason: Todd Coffey
Subtractions: C.C. Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Gabe Kapler, Russell Branyan, Ray Durham, Salomon Torres, Guillermo Mota, Brian Shouse, Eric Gagne
The Brewers' batting lineup remains unchanged for 2009 (GM Doug Melvin decided not to trade Mike Cameron). They ranked 7th in the NL last year with 4.63 runs scored per game. Using CHONE projections and the lineup analysis tool, the Brewers project to score 4.86 runs per game in '09. The projection system sees better seasons from Hart, Braun, Fielder, Weeks, and Hall.
It will be impossible to replicate the 3.86 ERA posted by last year's starters. 329 of the rotation's 983.3 innings came from Sabathia and Sheets at a 2.52 ERA. Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra form an interesting front two, but Melvin's main import was Looper for $4.75MM after his bid to retain Sabathia fell short. Using a rotation of Gallardo, Parra, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Looper, and Wright, I tweaked CHONE's innings totals and arrived at a projected 4.44 ERA for the '09 rotation.
The bullpen, which posted a 3.89 ERA in 472.3 innings last year, has been overhauled again. Many of last year's offenders are gone, with Hoffman signed to take over closing duties once he's healthy. Julio was also added to the mix. Carlos Villanueva quietly posted a 2.12 ERA and 4.43 K/BB ratio in 59.3 relief innings last year. All in all, the '09 bullpen projects to a 3.84 ERA. The Brewers' defense was third in the NL last year according to The Fielding Bible II. The defense remains the same, except for subtractions of Kapler, Branyan, and Durham.
So perhaps the Brewers will score more runs, but the main difference is obviously their rotation. Right now they project as an 85 win team, which should keep them in the wild card race.
Bottom line: The Brewers did little to replace Sabathia and Sheets. But with a breakout or two and/or another big summer trade, the Brewers may return to the playoffs in 2009.