So far this off-season, the Brewers have made the following changes to the 25-man roster that they ended the season with:
Go Go Gomez
Bring Your Z Game Gregg Zaun
Rickie Weeks (coming off of injury)
Mark DeFelice (broken)
Probably Gone as Non-Tender Candidates:
Do we like this team better now than where it ended last season? I'd have to say yes. Jason Kendall slugged like .300 last year. And he "managed the pitching staff" to a 5.50 ERA, so that's addition by subtraction just getting him off the roster.
2B is a huge question mark, as it has been every year that Rickie Weeks has been penciled in as the starter.
At SS, JJ couldn't have been productive at the plate if he played his home games at Helfair Field last season. Plus with apologies to Tom Brady, he's the slowest person on the planet. Escobar I'm sure will struggle some at the dish, but he's fast as hell and makes silly plays at SS. I'm good with the move here.
In CF, Cameron was a guy that I liked a lot more than most Brewers fans. But he made $10 million last year. Gomez is a plus defender who hasn't figured out how to steal first base yet, so they're probably gaining some defense while losing a lot of power. Overall probably a bit of a downgrade unless Gomez figures things out at the plate - it's hard to compare the players since they're so different.
Adding Wolf, while they overpaid, gives the Brewers a bona fide major league pitcher in the rotation behind Gallardo. I can't say I love this deal, because I think 3 years is too long, but it probably had to be done considering the backup plan in free agency was Jon Garland. Pass. Plus this will close off any Doug Davis talk - I seriously can't sit through another season of Doug Davis nibbling his way through a series of 3 and a half hour starts. Wolf has also been good against NL Central teams recently.
Finally, Hawkins got two years from Milwaukee, which is a bit of a surprise to me. His numbers look fine, and I recall he was pretty nasty when the Brewers faced him last year, but like Murdock said to me today, I can't get too worked up about a middle reliever. Coffey/Hawkins/Hoffman is potentially a pretty good 7/8/9 in the bullpen.
All in all the team is better than it was at the end of the year, if only because Wolf replaces Looper and his 97 home runs allowed from last year and someone other than Jason Kendall will be doing the catching. The Brewers still need another starter, and hopefully they're not depending on a Mulder type. What would it take to get Javy Vasquez from Atlanta? That's the guy I would target in the trade market.