As the baseball season dawns, it's difficult to imagine there being much more excitement over the future of the Milwaukee Brewers. You've heard all the hype by now, so instead of yet another prediction, I offer a kernel or two about each player on the opening 25-man Brewers roster (and one that isn't).
Dave Bush: The team's newest starter had a 1.25 WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) ratio last year, which was better than any starter on the '05 Crew save Ben Sheets (1.07).
Jose Capellan: According to ESPN.com, 82 percent of Capellan's pitches are fast balls -- including a near perfect 99 percent of his first pitches in any at bat. But when he's ahead in the count, he throws his slider 26 percent of the time.
Chris Capuano: Last year's 18-game winner was among seven pitchers who tied for the N.L. lead in 2005 by making 35 starts, a group that included teammate Doug Davis. He also surrendered 31 home runs, most on the team and nine behind Eric Milton, the league's "leader" in that category.
Doug Davis: In just 5.2 more innings, Davis had as many strikeouts last year (208) as future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. He also had almost twice as many walks (93 to 47).
Jorge de la Rosa: Why the astronomically high WHIP (2.03) last year? Try 38 walks in 42.1 IP. But his 42 Ks in those same innings tantalize, as does the lefty's fastball-change-curve repertoire.
Jared Fernandez: The 34-year-old, non-roster invitee knuckleballer made the team despite having just 102.1 innings pitched under his big-league belt. According to baseball-reference.com, his career stats are most similar to those of Alan Hargesheimer, Mike Bruhert, Kevin Correia, Jake Aydelott and Ed Wojna.
Rick Helling: His ERA last year in 49 innings as a Brewer was 2.39, approximately half of his career ERA entering last season (4.77). A successful Mike Maddux reclamation or an aberration?
Dan Kolb: Why did Kolb flame out in Atlanta? As a Brewer in 2003-04, he walked 34 men in 98.2 IP. In Atlanta last year, he walked 29 in 58.2 IP.
Justin Lehr: Don't expect Ned Yost to use the righty Lehr against tough righty hitters. He held lefties to a .207 average and .565 OPS last year while righties touched him up to the tune of .270 and .913, including four home runs.
Tomo Ohka: Trying to predict his success in the #4 slot? In the three seasons in which Ohka has started at least 29 games (including last year, though just 20 were with Milwaukee), Ohka has won 13, 10 and 11 games (in '02, '03 and '05).
Ben Sheets: Injury-prone, you say? Last year was the first season in his last four that Sheets didn't start 34 games or pitch at least 217 innings. By comparison, neither Mark Prior (came up in '02) nor Kerry Wood (came up in '98) have ever pitched 217 innings in a major-league season.
Derrick Turnbow: Turnbow held opposing hitters to a .199 batting average last year, just one point behind NL saves leader Chad Cordero (.198).
Matt Wise: His amazing 0.96 WHIP from '05 has to go up, right? Well, it was only 1.25 in '04 and is at 1.20 for Wise's career.
Jeff Cirillo: Cirillo remains the franchise's career leader in batting average at .306. The next four are Paul Molitor (.303), Cecil Cooper (.302), Kevin Seitzer (.300) and Darryl Hamilton (.290). He's also first in career OBP (.384).
Brady Clark: His 599 at bats in '05 represent 40 percent of his career total (1,485), and his 94 runs represent nearly half of his overall total (200).
Prince Fielder: In big-league at bats in '05, Fielder had the same amount of hits as strikeouts (17). But in 1,635 minor-league at bats, he had 486 hits (.288 BA), 237 walks (.398 OBP), 320 strikeouts and 91 home runs.
Gabe Gross: Compare these minor-league stats to Fielder's: 1,703 AB, 480 hits (.282 BA), 247 walks (.377 OBP) and 356 strikeouts. The one striking difference is in homers -- Gross had just 40.
Bill Hall: Hall should see more time at third base vs. lefties (.336 BA against in '05) than righties (.277). But 14 of his 17 homers last season came against right-handers.
J.J. Hardy: Hardy has long been advertised as a slick fielder, but among NL starting shortstops in '05, Hardy's .975 fielding percentage ranked only 10th.
Corey Hart: Much is made of Hart's power potential, but the big youngster has 120 career steals in the minors, including 31 at AAA in '05.
Geoff Jenkins: Never fully appreciated for his defense, Jenkins was involved in 7 double plays last year, three more than any other major league outfielder (Brady Clark was one of several involved in 4).
Corey Koskie: In 5.64 statistical years in the majors (based on 162 games per year), Koskie's batting numbers are solid: 20 HR, 84 RBI and 35 doubles. The one glaring negative? 131 strikeouts.
Carlos Lee: El Caballo's plate discipline is impressive for a slugger -- he had only 87 Ks in 618 ABs in '05. More evidence is found in his NL-leading total of 11 sacrifice flies.
Damian Miller: Miller's .340 OBP last year was decent, but his 94 strikeouts in 385 ABs decreased his offensive effectiveness.
Chad Moeller: Despite some clutch homers last year, Moeller isn't here for his bat; he's hit 23 homers in his career while grounding into 39 double plays.
Rickie Weeks: People like to talk about Weeks' power (13 HR in 360 ABs) or lack of plate discipline (96 Ks) but don't forget about his speed; he snatched 15 steals in 17 attempts last year. And in possible good news for the season's opening series, he hit 4 homers against Pittsburgh.
Sports shots columnist Tim Gutowski was born in a hospital in West Allis and his sporting heart never really left. He grew up in a tiny town 30 miles west of the city named Genesee and was in attendance at County Stadium the day the Brewers clinched the 1981 second-half AL East crown. I bet you can't say that.
Though Tim moved away from Wisconsin (to Iowa and eventually the suburbs of Chicago) as a 10-year-old, he eventually found his way back to Milwaukee. He remembers fondly the pre-Web days of listenting to static-filled Brewers games on AM 620 and crying after repeated Bears' victories over the Packers.