Brewers Announcer Joe Block Takes A Look At The Coming Baseball Season

Milwaukee Faces Colorado In Opening Day Matchup

Eric Olson (CC-BY-NC-SA) 

It’s opening day for the Milwaukee Brewers. They’re taking on the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park. Players and fans are anxious to shake off last year’s historic season-ending collapse, and make a sustained run for the playoffs in 2015. For a preview of the baseball season, WPR’s Terry Bell talked to the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, Joe Block.

Terry Bell: This is mostly the same team that suffered that epic collapse at the end of last season. Why no major changes in the offseason?

Joe Block: I disagree with that. I think the Brewers made several changes. In fact, a couple of guys that they brought in at the end of last year, Gerardo Parra and Jonathan Broxton to try to improve their chances of making the postseason — that’s different than the team that started last year, as well as going out and getting Adam Lind. Finally, for the first time in the last three years, they’ve got an everyday first baseman with a track record.

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TB: A good baseball team is strong up the middle. Jonathan Lucroy at catcher and center fielder Carlos Gomez can be counted on. Jean Segura at shortstop and second baseman Scooter Gennettthey maybe have a little more to prove.

JB: I disagree there too, Terry. Gennett’s been a .300 career hitter, and he’s proven he can hit left-handers in the minor leagues. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue for him playing every day this year. And Segura, a past all-star already in his first full season, he wasn’t to that form last year, of course, but it looks like he’s stinging better this spring, and hitting gaps with line drives, and that’s what he was doingtaking the ball to all fieldsin that ’13 season. So, he’s closer to that (this spring) than we saw at any point last year. So I think those guysdefensively, especially with Segura, but offensively tooare going to be among the better double-play combinations in the National League. And as you mentioned, yeah, I will agree with youGomez and Lucroy up the middleare all-stars, and the Brewers are lucky to have those guys, too.

TB: Longtime ace Yovanni Guiardo is gone. There is a starting rotation of five. Do we have enough (starting) pitchers to get through the long baseball season?

JB: That is a question. Right now, the five that they’ve got on the rotation are all solid, and guys that they’re counting on. So if you’re the Brewers, and you’re trying to figure out who your sixth or seventh starter is, that’s a pretty good problem to have, but for the most part, teams don’t have the luxury of employing seven or eight starting pitchers that they think might all be able to contribute in the event of an injury.

TB: Francisco Rodriguez is back, but can the Brewers count on him to be the closer?

JB: Well, he saved 44 games last year, and only blew five of them. The home runs were an interesting part of his mix last year. I think just about any closer in baseball is going to give you some intrigue, but what was interesting about him was not only his success rate overall, but also in half of his outings last year, he faced the minimum. Half of his save chances, so he did make a lot of one-two-three saves, and of course, no one talks about those, because he just did his job. He’s an all-star, and he’ll be back again this year.

TB: As much as the Brewers may have maintained over the off-season, you could argue some of the other teams in their division got better.

JB: Absolutely. I think the Cubs improved. Pittsburgh continues to add depth. The Cardinals are always going to be in the mix. I don’t know if the Reds improved, but they are going to be healthier, it seems like, this year, and that should help them at least be more competitive in the division this year.