An up-close look at the club as we approach Opening Day
You can bank on: Defense will be a hot topic all year. Shortstop Hardy and left fielder Jenkins are the only defensive standouts, and first baseman Fielder is surprisingly good. But there are issues elsewhere; Bill Hall will need time to adjust to center field, and Corey Hart remains a work in progress in right. Weeks showed dramatic improvement last season, but at times he still looks stiff. Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell will be OK at third base, but their natural positions are second base and shortstop, respectively.Litmus test: It's becoming cliché, but if Sheets makes his 30 starts, the team has a real chance to contend in a balanced National League Central. After three straight years of 34 starts and 200-plus innings, Sheets has battled injuries the last two years and needs a big season to justify his big contract. Games you don't want to miss
April 9-17 at Florida, St. Louis and Cincinnati: The first road trip. The Brewers were a putrid 27-54 on the road last season compared to 48-33 at Miller Park. The 5.21 road ERA certainly contributed, but for the most part, Yost was mystified by his team's road woes. That will have to improve for the team to contend.
June 18-20, July 20-22 vs. San Francisco: Giants slugger Barry Bonds is making a bid to break Hank Aaron's all-time record for home runs, many of which came at old Milwaukee County Stadium. Bet on Bonds getting a tough reception.
Aug. 14-16 vs. St. Louis: The Brewers are staging a season-long celebration of the 1982 Brewers, who 25 years ago took the Cardinals to a decisive Game 7 in the World Series. A number of special events are scheduled for this series, including a team reunion.April 6-8, June 4-6 vs. Cubs: It's always a circus at Miller Park when the Cubs are in town. The rivalry could be particularly interesting this season because both teams believe they are dramatically improved.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.