COMMENTARY | Every team has a weakness. Regardless of the sport, there is always at least one aspect of a team that the opponent can try and exploit. The Milwaukee Brewers have plenty to hang their hat on, such as their stacked lineup, speed on the bases and defense in the outfield, but there are some rather glaring weaknesses on the roster as well.
Through April 2 and the first two games of the 2013 season, those weaknesses have already reared their ugly heads. We'll explain as we break down the three weakest links on the Brewers' opening day roster.
The back-end of the bullpen
Ironically enough, it has been the lesser-known relievers who have been getting the job done early this season. Entering the season, we knew there would be questions about the revamped bullpen in general because of the struggles closer John Axford endured last season combined with all of the new faces.
But pitchers like Alfredo Figaro, Brandon Kintzler, Burke Badenhop and Chris Narveson have looked far more comfortable on the mound than those who are expected to contribute late with games on the line. It only took Axford one game to allow his first home run and blow his first save opportunity, and new acquisition Michael Gonzalez failed to even record an out in his first appearance with Milwaukee.
It's only been two games, but the most important part of the bullpen - the back-end - was shaky entering the season and may continue to be a pressing issue as the season progresses.
The first-timers in the rotation
Three pitchers will begin the season with the Brewers as starting pitchers for the first time - Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers. All three started for portions of last year, but none were remembers of the starting rotation when the 2012 season began.
That's 60 percent of the rotation, and that has to be concerning for Ron Roenicke and the Brewers. Estrada closed out his campaign strong, but he doesn't throw hard. Even though he racked up eight strikeouts in his first start of the season, Estrada was only able to last five innings, just like opening day starter Yovani Gallardo.
Velocity is also not one of Fiers' strengths, and he showed signs of fatigue as the 2012 season wore on after a blistering start following his call-up. Peralta is a hard thrower, but whether or not he can locate his pitches will be something to keep an eye on, and like Fiers, he may need his innings managed. Pitching deep into games is a general concern for Milwaukee, especially with the ambiguity in the bullpen.
The absence of Corey Hart for roughly one-sixth of the regular season due to a knee injury is a potentially devastating situation for Milwaukee. In spring training, Roenicke settled on shortstop Alex Gonzalez to take Hart's place for the first month or so this season, and that is a significant downgrade at the first base position.
Hart provided plus power in the five-spot and great defense at first last season, and Gonzalez doesn't bring much in terms of his bat. He has only been playing first base for a little over a month, and while Sea Bass is an excellent defender, that's not much time to make an adjustment to a new position that he probably won't play past April.
Through his first six at-bats of the season, Gonzalez hadn't recorded a hit, but did earn two walks and has looked competent over at first base. With all this in mind, the Brewers have to hope they can keep their heads above water with Hart out the lineup.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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