Through a series of tweets by beat writers Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), Tom Haudricourt & Todd Rosiak (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel), several decisions which directly impact the 25-man roster of the Milwaukee Brewers were disseminated from Spring Training on Sunday morning.
With an opt-out decision looming today, first and foremost relief pitcher Blaine Boyer was told that he has made the 25-man roster. The move will eventually require a corresponding 40-man roster move as Boyer was in camp on a Minor League contract, but there are a handful of 60-day DL candidates so finding a spot (or two or three) won’t be difficult.
The other player who got the best news was OF/1B Ramon Flores who was also told he’ll make the 25-man roster. Flores was acquired this off-season in trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas in a swap of players who were likely to be waived by their original clubs. Flores had a strong Cactus League and also showed a little versatility in being able to potentially backup Chris Carter at first base.
As there are ultimately so few spots, many more players get the proverbial red ticket in their locker.
Among those informed that they’ll begin the regular season in the minors are catchers Josmil Pinto and Manny Piña who were told they’ll be in Triple-A. Catcher Adam Weisenburger will apparently join them, giving Colorado Springs a trio of backstops.
Will Middlebrooks was informed today that he’ll also be assigned to Triple-A after vying for a spot as a backup corner infielder. Once there he is expected to rotate at the corner infield positions with Andy Wilkins and Garin Cecchini.
Joining them in the high-altitude infield will be Jake Elmore who was hoping to make the big league team as a reserve but came up short.
In the outfield competition, Eric Young Jr. was told that he’ll also head to the Centennial State when camp breaks. He’ll be joined officially by Shane Peterson who, after passing through waivers earlier this winter, was also in camp on a minor-league deal.
And finally, one official optioning came down as reliever David Goforth was sent out. Even with all the injuries to the bullpen recently, Goforth having minor league options was likely a key factor as others in the running for just a couple of spots had less team control due to no options or contract opt-outs like Boyer.
All told, this leaves the following combination of players in camp:
- Yadiel Rivera, Rule 5 Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitee Hernan Perez are competing for what is likely two open infield jobs.
- Keon Broxton (options remaining), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (no options), and Alex Presley (NRI) competing for likely two backup outfield spots.
- Chris Capuano (opt-out), Franklin Morales (opt-out), Ariel Peña (no options), Tyler Cravy (options remaining) are in play for two bullpen jobs
We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.
Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.
I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?
With that, to the list!
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Kyle Lohse
- Marco Estrada
- Matt Garza
- Wily Peralta
I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.
The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.
Relief Pitchers (7)
(with one more starting on DL)
- Jim Henderson
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Will Smith*
- Brandon Kintzler
- Wei-Chung Wang*
- Rob Wooten
- Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
- Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)
Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.
For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.
Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.
As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.
- Mark Reynolds
- Rickie Weeks
- Jean Segura
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
- Scooter Gennett**
- Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)
Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.
Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.
The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.
For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Ryan Braun
- Logan Schafer**
Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed ---
So there you have it.
I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.
Recorded last night over dinner and during a fantasy baseball draft, my podcast partner Cary Kostka and I get you ready for Opening Day!
We discuss the 25-man roster projection, lineup for Opening Day, rotation, Kyle Lohse, Yuniesky Betancourt and more!
Click here to download the podcast: Brewer Nation Podcast – 2013 Opening Day Preparedness
The Milwaukee Brewers lost a game tonight in a big league ballpark and afterward announced their final decision for the big league roster.
In a somewhat unexpected move, 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa will start the year on the 25-man roster whihle INF Brooks Conrad heads to Nashville.
Conrad was widely, and incorrectly, assumed the favorite by many writers (this one included) as the Cactus League was reaching its conclusion.
Conrad is a switch-hitter and can back up at 1B, 2B and 3B, and had even been taking some “emergency catcher” drills with bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel. Ishikawa is left-handed at the plate and provides a more consistent pinch-hitting option, and while he only backs up at 1B, he’s a true backup there and packs a plus glove in his equipment bag. Ishikawa can also play the corner outfield spots in a pinch.
There can be no question in my mind that this decision was made in part because of how poor Conrad’s defense is around the diamond, regardless as to the position he’s currently stationed.
Anyway, congratulations to Travis Ishikawa.
If nothing unforeseen happens tomorrow, here is the rest of the official roster (as of tonight, things can always change before Friday) that will be lining up along the first-base line on April 6.
Starting Pitchers (5): RHP Yovani Gallardo, RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Shaun Marcum, LHP Chris Narveson
Bullpen Pitchers (7): RHP John Axford, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Kameron Loe, LHP Manny Parra, RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Tim Dillard
Catchers (2): Jonathan Lucroy, George Kottaras
Infielders (6): 1B Mat Gamel, 2B Rickie Weeks, SS Alex Gonzalez, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Travis Ishikawa, UTIL Cesar Izturis
Outfielders (5): LF Ryan Braun, CF Nyjer Morgan, RF Corey Hart, OF Carlos Gomez, OF Norichika Aoki
The Milwaukee Brewers made a number of roster moves today as they move ever closer to a final 25-man roster with which to take to Miller Park and open the regular season on Friday, April 6.
- Three players were optioned to Triple-A Nashville today. They are catcher Martin Maldonado, left-handed relief pitcher Zach Braddock, and infielder Taylor Green.
- Right-handed relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler was placed on the 15-day DL as he increases his arm strength following his temporary shutdown.
- Zelous Wheeler was also lost on waivers today to the Baltimore Orioles.
- This was clearly a move made to open a spot on the 40-man roster. The organization no doubt wanted to keep Wheeler had they been able to sneak him through waivers.
This leaves the 40-man roster at (in essence) 38 players while leaving 29 players in big league camp with a shot at making the 25-man roster.
The “locks” to make the team are:
- Starting Pitchers (5 spots)
- RHP – Yovani Gallardo
- RHP – Zack Greinke
- LHP – Chris Narveson
- LHP – Randy Wolf
- Relief Pitchers (7)
- RHP – John Axford – Closer
- RHP – Marco Estrada
- RHP – Kameron Loe
- RHP – Francisco Rodriguez
- RHP – Jose Veras
- Catchers (2)
- Jonathan Lucroy
- George Kottaras
- Infielders (6)
- Mat Gamel
- Alex Gonzalez
- Cesar Izturis (NRI – informed today that he would be added to the big league roster)
- Aramis Ramirez
- Rickie Weeks
- Outfielders (5)
- Norichika Aoki
- Ryan Braun
- Carlos Gomez
- Nyjer Morgan
That’s 20 “locks” (as much as anybody can be a lock). That leaves fives spots to be decided. It’s one starting spot, two bullpen spots, an IF spot and an OF spot.
The borderline candidates list includes two normal locks who could still open the season on the disabled list, a handful of relief pitchers fighting for two open spots, and a list of NRIs hoping to earn their way onto the roster.
- Players recovering from injury who would otherwise be locks
- RF – Corey Hart
- SP – Shaun Marcum
- Relief pitchers competing for open spots
- RHP – Tim Dillard
- RHP – Mike McClendon
- LHP – Manny Parra
- LHP – Juan Perez – NRI
- 1B/LF/RF – Travis Ishikawa – NRI
- 1B/2B/3B – Brooks Conrad – NRI
- SS/2B/LF – Edwin Maysonet – NRI
Obviously if Hart and Marcum are healthy enough to go, they’ll have their spots on the roster.
Let’s work under the assumption of health for those two. That leaves us with the two bullpen spots and one infield spot.
The situation for the bullpen arms is that Dillard and Parra are out of options while McClendon has options remaining and Perez has missed significant time after suffering a partially-collapsed lung and will likely start the season either on the minor league DL or in extended Spring Training to build up his arm strength.
I really only see this breaking down in such a way that Parra and Dillard make the club.
The infielders are a bit trickier on the surface but after the optioning of Green, it appears that Conrad is the likely choice to the make the team. He is a switch-hitter who can provide a bit of power off the bench and is used to that role during his time in the Major Leagues.
Following today’s announcement that Izturis was told he would make the roster, Maysonet’s chances were significantly decreased. The team simply doesn’t need a second light-hitting backup infielder to start the year when they can simply keep him at Triple-A and have him available for a call up if need be.
As for Ishikawa, if Corey Hart isn’t healthy enough to make the club there is a chance Ishikawa could head north with the Brewers, but I have a feeling that he’ll simply be placed at Triple-A to begin the year and provide recallable depth should the need for it arise.
In other words, though there is always a bit of doubt until the final announcements are made, the 25 men with the best chances to compose the 25-man roster have discerned themselves.
Now it’s just a matter of time (and health) until it’s all made official.
By: Big Rygg
- Yovani Gallardo
- Shaun Marcum
- Randy Wolf
- Chris Narveson
- John Axford
- Takashi Saito
- Kameron Loe
- Sean Green
- Zach Braddock
- Mitch Stetter
- Sergio Mitre
- Brandon Kintzler
- George Kottaras
- Wil Nieves
- 1B – Prince Fielder
- 2B – Rickie Weeks
- SS – Yuniesky Betancourt
- 3B – Casey McGehee
- Bench – Craig Counsell
- Bench – Erick Almonte
- LF – Ryan Braun
- CF – Carlos Gomez
- RF – Mark Kotsay
- Bench – Jeremy Reed
- Bench – Nyjer Morgan
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We give you some roster updates and injury news but also predict the 25-man roster, pitching rotation and the Opening Day batting lineup!
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