Healthy Braun, Aramis vital to lineup's success

Adding Lind gives Brewers left-handed pop

Healthy Braun, Aramis vital to lineup's success

MILWAUKEE -- This is the fifth in a series of stories leading to the start of Spring Training. We've already covered the Brewers' bounce-back candidates, their key newcomers, prospects to watch and manager Ron Roenicke's desire to turn the page from the final six weeks of 2014. Today, some personnel projections.

An offensive outage dropped the Brewers from contention at the end of the 2014 season, so general manager Doug Melvin moved quickly to address three of the team's needs: A first baseman, a left-handed hitter with some power, and a tough hitter to strike out. Adam Lind brought all three traits in a Nov. 1 trade with the Blue Jays.

Is one player enough to make a difference? The Brewers, returning an offense otherwise intact, are about to find out.

"There wasn't a good list [of available first basemen], and we felt we had to move quickly or we could have lost out," Melvin said. "He's a professional hitter. He should hit in our ballpark. He uses the whole field. I can see him hitting home runs into left-center. I think people have to understand he's not a big home run hitter; he's just a good, professional hitter."

The Brewers felt they needed one of those after a Jekyll and Hyde sort of season at the plate. Among National League clubs, only the high-altitude Rockies fared better during the first three months of the season in every major offensive category. But after scoring 4.56 runs per game through June 30, the Brewers scored 3.42 runs per game from July 1 onward. Only the Reds had a more difficult time putting runs on the board.

Outlook: Lind, 1B, MIL

Besides the addition of Lind, the Brewers hope to be buoyed in 2015 by the healthy return of Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, by the continued emergence of 28-year-old Jonathan Lucroy as one of baseball's premier catchers, and by the development of second-year second baseman Scooter Gennett, who will assume everyday duties after platooning with Rickie Weeks last year.

Braun, whose right hand injury sapped his power and led to the worst season of his career, is critical in 2015.

"I know he's said that if he was healthy, things might have been different last year, and maybe they would have," Roenicke said. "Having he and Aramis both healthy and swinging it well certainly would have made a difference, but I'm not putting the offense on [Braun]. People want to do that, but we have a lot of good hitters in our lineup. It shouldn't all be on him."

2014 record
82-80, third in the NL Central

Projected batting order
1. 2B Gennett:
.289 BA, .320 OBP, .465 SLG, 9 HR, 54 RBIs in 2014
2. C Lucroy:
.301 BA, .373 OBP, .434 SLG, 13 HR, 69 RBIs in 2014
3. RF Braun:
.266 BA, .324 OBP, .453 SLG, 19 HR, 81 RBIs in 2014
4. 3B Ramirez:
.285 BA, .330 OBP, .427 SLG, 15 HR, 66 RBIs in 2014
5. CF Carlos Gomez:
.284 BA, .356 OBP, .477 SLG, 23 HR, 73 RBIs in 2014
6. 1B Lind:
.321 BA, .381 OBP, .479 SLG, 6 HR, 40 RBIs for TOR in 2014
7. LF Khris Davis:
.244 BA, .299 OBP, .457 SLG, 22 HR, 69 RBIs in 2014
8. SS Jean Segura:
.246 BA, .289 OBP, .326 SLG, 5 HR, 31 RBI in 2014

Key reserves: OF Gerardo Parra, C Martin Maldonado

Projected rotation
1. RHP Kyle Lohse, 13-9, 3.54 ERA in 2014
2. RHP Matt Garza, 8-8, 3.64 ERA in 2014
3. RHP Wily Peralta, 17-11, 3.53 ERA in 2014
4. RHP Mike Fiers, 6-5, 2.13 ERA in 2014
5. RHP Jimmy Nelson, 2-9, 4.93 ERA in 2014

Key reserve: RHP Taylor Jungmann

Projected bullpen
Closer: Jonathan Broxton, 2.30 ERA for CIN/MIL in 2014
LH setup man: Will Smith, 3.70 ERA, 30 holds in 2014
RH setup man: Jeremy Jeffress, 2.81 ERA for TOR/MIL in 2014

Other key candidates: LHP Neal Cotts, RHPs Brandon Kintzler, Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.