Our Atlanta Braves head up to Milwaukee to face the Brewers for a 3-game series that is the start of a 6-game, 7-day road trip. As part of our ongoing series of series previews, I exchanged some questions with Kyle Lobner of the Brewers blog Brew Crew Ball. Here are some questions and answers that will hopefully better acquaint us with the Brewers.
Q: Saturday's pitching matchup will be the best of the series. Who would you rather have and why, Tommy Hanson or Yovani Gallardo?
A: Can I have both? Certainly, there's no wrong answer here. Hanson is a year younger but also has a year less major league experience. I'll take Gallardo at the moment based on experience and the ability to go a little deeper into games (he's averaging 6.1 innings per start over Hanson's 6). Certainly, both of these guys could win a Cy Young in the next few seasons. Gallardo's hitting is the tiebreaker: he has four home runs in 90 career at bats.
A: He's more of a leadoff man than the Brewers have had since Rickie Weeks got injured. Lopez allows the Brewers to get a little more rest to Craig Counsell, who will be 39 in August and is playing on a knee that needs surgery, and Casey McGehee, who's been a great surprise but is struggling with a knee injury of his own.
Q: Is there a more useless player in the league than Jason Kendall?
A: As long as Bill Hall is around, the answer will always be yes. Hall is making more money than Kendall and providing a .265 OBP. On top of that, he recently told Brewers.com reporter Adam McCalvy that he thinks he's still the best third baseman in baseball.
Kendall is virtually worthless at the plate, but he gets credited with unquantifiable things like "calling a good game" and "handling pitchers well." Those aren't much, but they're more than Hall has going for him.
Q: Are the Brewers willing to trade one of their top two prospects -- Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar -- after trading a bunch of prospects last year for CC Sabathia? Who are you hoping the Brewers acquire, if anyone, before this year's trade deadline?
A: In all honesty, I'm hoping the Brewers hold on to their prospects and do their best with what they've got. They've been mentioned as players in the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee sweepstakes and having one of those guys would dramatically increase their chances of winning in 2009 and 2010, but acquiring one of those guys would require gutting the farm system of young talent they're counting on to lead them forward from 2011. As much as I'd like to see a World Series banner at Miller Park, I'd rather not be looking at it while watching the 62-100 2011 Brewers.
Q: What is the Brewers' greatest team weakness? Their greatest strength?
A: The Brewers have a solid core of young hitters that can carry the team on their back when they're on. Ryan Braun has had some incredible games this season, and Prince Fielder seems to consistently find ways to produce. The bullpen has also been solid late in games, with Trevor Hoffman, Todd Coffey, Mark DiFelice, Mitch Stetter and Chris Smith all being reliable options.
Starting pitching is the issue right now, and we're all hoping that the rotation will settle into form once Dave Bush is back in a week or two. Manny Parra appears to have returned to form, so the only real question mark in the rotation is Mike Burns, who may be replaced before he's needed again, either with an internal option or an external one.