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For Brewers, it's a question of arms

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports

Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason of every MLB team before spring training begins in mid-February. Our series continues at No. 18 with the Milwaukee Brewers.

2009 record: 80-82
Finish: Third place, NL Central
2009 final payroll: $89.8 million
Estimated 2010 opening day payroll: $85 million

OFFSEASON ACTION

Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin run a nice little shop there at the base of Wisconsin's right thumb. For most of the past five years they've been more competitive, a couple seasons ago even making their first postseason appearance in more than a quarter century. Like teams in a lot of markets that look like theirs, the Brewers do what they can with what they have, that being two or three times less gluttony than the Yankees and three times less stinginess than the Marlins. No shame in that.

And, like any middle-class operation, the big purchases aren't easy. When the roof blows off the house, you have only a few options. You call Uncle Bud for a loan. You exhale, blow up the kids' college fund and get the best roof on the market. Or you tarp the joint and hope to make it to fall.

Well, after fielding the worst starting rotation in the game last season – yes, worse than the Mets, worse than the Nats, worse than any team in the American League – the Brewers signed Randy Wolf(notes) and Doug Davis(notes).

Better get some big rocks for the corners.

Otherwise, the Brewers got faster in center field (Carlos Gomez(notes) trade) and wiser behind the plate (Gregg Zaun(notes) signing) and more Zen in the dugout (Rick Peterson hire), so it appears they'll also be putting out pots and pans to catch the leaks.

REALITY CHECK

They're going to have to score runs. A lot of them.

Fortunately for the Brewers, there's another possibility of that, thanks mostly to the most potent three-four combination in baseball, that being 26-year-old Ryan Braun and 25-year-old Prince Fielder(notes), who over the past three seasons have three top-five MVP finishes between them.

In 2009 they ganged up for 78 home runs and 255 RBIs. That's more than Mark Teixeira(notes) and Alex Rodriguez(notes) (69, 222), more than Chase Utley(notes) and Ryan Howard(notes) (76, 234), more than Albert Pujols(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) (71, 244), even when you grant Holliday his Oakland numbers.

Thing is, they weren't much as a pitching staff and they didn't defend well. So, of the top seven scoring teams in the National League, the Brewers, who were third in runs scored, were the only one with a losing record.

Now they go with a rotation of Wolf, Davis, Yovani Gallardo(notes) and, to be determined in March, a couple from Jeff Suppan(notes), Dave Bush(notes), Manny Parra(notes) and lefty Chris Narveson(notes).

It might be a lot to ask.

By the way, if you're looking for a comeback story, you've got one in Chris Capuano(notes), the lefty and former 18-game winner who has endured two Tommy John surgeries (and recoveries) and hasn't thrown a big-league pitch since September 2007.

NEXT: San Francisco Giants

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