This coming Friday is Opening Day.
Let that sink in.
In five excruciatingly long days, the teams will be lining up, coach by coach, player by player along the third and first base lines.
One player that won’t be joining the team on Opening Day this year is third baseman:
He began the year in the minors where he hit a total of .336/.412/.580, 431 AB, 76 R, 145 H, 37 doubles, 1 triple, 22 HR, 91 RBI, 55 BB, 75 K. He even stole a base in his only attempt.
Those numbers, and the fact that he played third base where Casey McGehee was struggling mightily all year, led to an outcry of “Free Taylor Green” epithets throughout Brewer Nation. Clearly, we opined, this was a guy that could be helping us. Why was he stuck at Triple-A?
The shouts would be answered eventually, though not soon enough nor completely enough to satisfy the masses.
Green ended the year as a member of the Brewers after getting called up and subsequently making his debut on August 31st. He got a hit in his first three Major League at-bats, and played well enough in September to be included as a member of the 25-man playoff roster, appearing in three post-season games.
It was a nice way to finish the year, from a career progression standpoint.
This off-season, the Brewers lost a few backups from the big league bench and there was thought that perhaps Green would break camp with the Brewers this spring. After all, McGehee hadn’t performed and both Craig Counsell (retirement) and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (free agency) were gone from the team.
Such would not prove to be the case.
The Brewers did end up trading McGehee away to Pittsburgh, but they immediately replaced him with Aramis Ramirez and then brought in extra competition for the bench. Both Cesar Izturis and Brooks Conrad can play third as well as second, two positions which Green primarily played in the minors during 2011. Conrad can also play first base and he is a switch-hitter, which proved to be a bit too much for Green to overcome.
Also working against Green was the fact that he’s still a youngish prospect-type and having him play everyday at Nashville (the Brewers Triple-A affiliate) is more beneficial to him than riding the bench in Milwaukee and only getting the occasional spot start.
Regardless, Green is still very much a part of the Brewers future plans. Conrad is older and may prove ineffective once the season rolls along, and it’s inevitable that someone will get injured during the season. So long as it’s not a shortstop type who goes down, Green is the likely recipient of any available playing time that comes up at the Major League level.
For now, however, Green must head to Nashville and do his best to repeat his 2011 season.
If he can do that, he’ll make a lot of front office types happy, a lot of fans upset he’s in Triple-A, and will be back up in Milwaukee sooner than later.
For all the things that could repeat themselves, that wouldn’t be the worst thing.