Team Previews

Nl Central

April 01, 2001

Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 73-89, 3rd place, 22 back Runs scored: 740 (13th in NL) Runs allowed: 826 (10th in NL) Manager: Davey Lopes Home: Miller Park That was then: Forced to play an extra year at County Stadium because of a construction accident at new Miller Park, Milwaukee started 9-15 en route to its eighth straight losing season. The Brewers ended their offensive funk after acquiring power hitter Richie Sexson in July. This is now: The team has sold 1.6 million tickets at the $400 million, 43,500-seat jewel of a stadium, surpassing last year's total attendance, and is using the income to boost payroll from $27 million to $45 million. That beer money has lured Jeffrey Hammonds and tied up power hitters Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz and Geoff Jenkins to long-term deals. Upside: The bullpen ERA of 3.84 was the NL's second best - key on a team that tied its major-league-record low of two complete games. Downside: The team's .325 on-base average was the majors' worst. ... Henry Blanco, who threw out an amazing 59 percent of stealers, isn't at full strength after injuring his throwing shoulder late last season. Don't miss ... : ... April 6, the club's first Opening Night. It had always been too cold to open under Milwaukee's stars, but that's not a problem with a retractable roof. Indoor sausage races - who'd have thunk it? Don't be surprised ... : ... if Bernie Brewer wears a hole in his pants sliding into the suds to celebrate home runs. Miller's power alleys (371 and 374) are friendlier than County Stadium's 392 feet. Don't expect ... : ... Jamey Wright to go long before being ejected. He hit a major-league-high 18 batters last season and figures to be targeted in baseball's beanball crackdown. Book it: "Life's Makeovers"

Milwaukee at a glance 2001 LINEUP CARD AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured) 3B Tony Fernandez* ... Japan in '00; Tyler Houston, too 2B Ron Belliard ... 19 E's; hit just .227 in second half LF Geoff Jenkins ... 20 of 34 HRs after All-Star break 1B Richie Sexson ... 47 RBIs in 57 NL games RF Jeromy Burnitz ... Slugger hit .232 but walked 99 times CF Jeffrey Hammonds* ... 4th in NL in BA but .399 at Coors SS Mark Loretta-i ... Hits 2nd; Jose Hernandez for now C Henry Blanco ... NL's best arm behind plate 2001 ROTATION, CLOSER AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured) RHP Jeff D'Amico-i ... Back next week; 3rd in NL in ERA RHP Jamey Wright ... Posted career-best 4.10 ERA RHP Jimmy Haynes ... 5.33 ERA; 100 walks, 88 K's RHP Ben Sheets ... Olympic hero eventual ace RHP Paul Rigdon ... Great spring till line drive off knee RHP Curtis Leskanic ... 28 of 31 inherited runners stranded

Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 69-93, 5th place, 26 back Runs scored: 793 (9th in NL) Runs allowed: 888 (12th in NL) Manager: Lloyd McClendon Home: PNC Park That was then: The farewell campaign at Three Rivers Stadium began with the promise of great young pitching and ended with Pittsburgh's worst ERA (4.94) since 1953. The result was the team's eighth straight losing season - for the first time since 1949-1957. This is now: The Pirates won the World Series in Forbes Field's first year (1909) and Three Rivers' first full season (1971) but can hardly expect such glory for PNC. Still, they'll reap benefits: Payroll is up from $30 million to a club-record $47 million, enabling the team to lock up outfielder Brian Giles, catcher Jason Kendall and pitcher Kris Benson. Upside: The 320-foot wall in right (21 feet tall to honor Roberto Clemente) gives Giles a shot at 50 homers. It's 443 feet to the Allegheny River. ... McClendon's fiery personality may jar these underachievers. Downside: Management wasted $9 million over two years on Derek Bell , who hit .187 after the All-Star break. ... Benson, Jason Schmidt (shoulder) and Francisco Cordova (elbow) are hurt, forcing the club to move Terry Mulholland into the rotation, exposing a flimsy bullpen. Don't miss ... : ... April 9, Opening Day at PNC, the first two-deck major-league park built in the United States since 1953 (Milwaukee County Stadium). And don't miss the sleeveless uniforms and radical red underbill on the alternate cap. Don't be surprised ... : ... if GM Cam Bonifay gets fired. "It's time to win," owner Kevin McClatchy said. They won't. Don't expect ... : ... Benson to thrive at PNC. Though a ground-ball pitcher, he was 1-8 on grass fields. Book it: "A Farewell to Arms"

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