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Friday, March 30, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Brewers

By David Schoenfield

Our final over/under poll: the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers went all-in for Prince Fielder's final season in Milwaukee and came up two wins short of the World Series. Behind MVP Ryan Braun and Fielder's 38 home runs, the Brewers ranked fifth in the NL with 721 runs. They ranked sixth with 638 runs allowed. With 96 wins, they exceeded their projected wins total by six. Closer John Axford was a key to that: After blowing two saves by April 18, he converted 43 in a row the rest of the regular season.

Fielder is gone, replaced in the lineup by Mat Gamel, who hit .310/.372/.540 at Nashville. The Brewers did sign former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who hit .306 with 26 home runs. Gamel won't replace Fielder but Ramirez should be a big step up from Casey McGehee, who posted a terrible .280 OBP in 600 PAs. The Brewers also replaced Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop with Alex Gonzalez, which should be a defensive upgrade. We all know about Braun's adventures in the offseason. Corey Hart may begin the season on the DL after surgery to repair torn knee cartilage.

The Brewers return their five-man rotation, with Yovani Gallardo scheduled to start Opening Day and Zack Greinke looking impressive this spring (28 strikeouts, two walks). Shaun Marcum has been bothered by a stiff right shoulder in camp but the latest news indicates he'll be ready to start the season. Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson fill out the rotation. The bullpen includes set-up man Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Kameron Loe, Marco Estrada and Manny Parra.

The oddsmakers have the over/under at 85 wins. Can the Brewers survive the loss of Prince?