The rebuilding project is over in Milwaukee, and the team will enter 2008 expected to contend for the National League Central title after finishing 2007 two games short of the Cubs.
The core of the team is young and intact, but there are still areas to address. The team will miss left fielder Geoff Jenkins' defense but not his strikeout-prone nature, and will look to fill the spot with a high on-base percentage type of player. They also need to address the bullpen after losing out on bids to re-sign closer Francisco Cordero and seventh-inning man Scott Linebrink, who both agreed to deals elsewhere.
2007 finish: 83-79, second place in NL Central.
Deals so far: Claimed C Eric Munson off waivers from the Astros. Signed LHP Randy Choate to a one-year split contract. Acquired RHP Guillermo Mota from the New York Mets for C Johnny Estrada. Agreed to terms with free-agent C Jason Kendall on a one-year contract with a vesting option for 2009.
Players eligible for arbitration: RHPs Greg Aquino, Dave Bush, Seth McClung, Chris Spurling, Claudio Vargas and Matt Wise, LHPs Chris Capuano and Brian Shouse, SS J.J. Hardy, OFs Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix.
Free agents: C Damian Miller, INFs Tony Graffanino and Corey Koskie, LF Jenkins.
Needs: Left field is an obvious hole, but the bullpen is the bigger issue. Brewers starters were expected to go deeper into games in 2007, but instead taxed a bullpen that was anchored ably by Cordero. Shouse has enjoyed a career resurgence since landing in Milwaukee and the team was intrigued by McClung's late-season stuff, but right-hander Derrick Turnbow and Wise ended the year in slumps. If Turnbow indeed steps back into the closer's role, the team will have to surround him with experienced options in case he falters. General manager Doug Melvin tends to favor power arms.
Dealing strengths: The Brewers are deeper than most clubs in starting pitching.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.