Although they don’t get much of the NL Central attention, and I’m certain there are dark days ahead in the long-term, the Milwaukee Brewers have a shot to contend this year. Sure, they’ve got some holes and not much depth, but they’ve got elite positional players and a good-enough rotation.
If you were looking to really take them down for 2015, you’d probably point to the bullpen, which looks potentially abysmal. Of course, bullpens are notoriously fickle, so we’ll see, but the Brewers (probably) took a big step today to try and remedy that issue: they’ve reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with Francisco Rodriguez, who explored free agency for as long as he could before agreeing to come back. According to Tom Haudricourt, Rodriguez is getting $3 million in 2015, and then $6 million in 2016 – a pretty nice get for him this late in the year.
Rodriguez, 33, was actually a sub-replacement-level pitcher for the Brewers last year, primarily because of the insane volume of homers he gave up (23.3% HR/FB ratio). That volume is almost certainly going to regress in the good direction, but his homer rate has been trending up for three years now. His strikeout rate was also a little down last year, though his walk rate was, too. All in all, other than the homers, he was decent last year. Maybe he rebounds in that area, and is effective for the Brewers this year, and is the piece they need to ensure their bullpen doesn’t derail them.
I still think the Cardinals and Pirates are the Cubs’ primary competition in the Central this year, but don’t sleep on the Brewers.
UPDATE: Whoa, Ken Rosenthal says Rodriguez did even better:
Source: K-Rod deal with #Brewers is two years, $13M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 26, 2015
Yeesh. I know the Brewers were hard up, and I know Rodriguez had good K/BB numbers last year, but … not sure that’s a great deal on their end.