Not even Jay Sherman could really complain about the Brewers new deal with Bill Hall. He’s an athletic player who has compiled two straight quality seasons. He’s 27 years old. The deal is backloaded in a manner that would be, given his steady performance in the future, commensurate with the arbitration dollars he’d earn. And he’s moving to center field, where his power bat will rank him among the top offensively at the position (though the same could be said of his playing shortstop).
The Brewers look like they’re a bullpen away from making a serious run at the NL Central. Their starting rotation projects strongly if Ben Sheets stays healthy, with Chris Capuano, Jeff Suppan, Claudio Vargas, and David Bush pitching behind him. Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Corey Koskie represent a fine infield that may become stronger should Ryan Braun fulfill his potential and man third base. Johnny Estrada is an enormous offensive upgrade over Damien Miller behind the plate. And then you have the outfield of Bill Hall, Geoff Jenkins, and Kevin Mench. Not overly intimidating, but they can get the job done, especially with an offensive infield.
Among the teams picked as early-season sleepers, I feel the Brew Crew have the best shot. They play in a weak division that has, with the exception of the Cubs, weakened further over the off-season. Their problem, however, is depth, and an injury to any key player could easily cost them the season. Not that it’s much different elsewhere in the league.