Now that 2009 is behind us and spring training is just months away, it's time to attempt another look at what the Milwaukee Brewers 2010 roster will be. There aren't too many roster spots up for grabs, a few bench roles and maybe a bullpen spot, so we have a pretty good idea what the team will look like this season.
Position Players - Starting
Catcher - Gregg Zaun - Yet another old catcher who has never had a major impact on any of the clubs he's ever played. Don't worry though, he's only played over a hundred games four times in 15 seasons and once in the last five. He'll get hurt, or replaced by a prospect, by August.
First Base - Prince Fielder - No explanation needed. Look for contract talks to heat up at some point in the next three or four months. Ownership knows how important Prince is and they will try hard to lock him up.
Second Base - Rickie Weeks - Is this the year? Probably not. The Brew Crew would be lucky just to have Weeks stay healthy. He showed what he's capable of doing in the first month and a half of 2009, the question is whether or not a second wrist surgery will hamper that.
Third Base - Casey McGehee - Clamor for Mat Gamel all you want, but McGehee will be the opening day starter. It remains to be seen whether or not McGehee was a fluke and until we know the answer to that question he plays third base.
Shortstop - Alcides Escobar - Fresh off winning the Venezuelan Winter League batting title, Escobar is slated to be the starting shortstop for Milwaukee in 2010. He won't walk enough, but as long as he puts the ball in play his speed will put pressure on the defense.
Left Field - Ryan Braun - Duh.
Center Field - Carlos Gomez - Much like Escobar, only he's been striking out far too much. He's got a bit more pop than Alcides as well. Ideally, he'll thrive now that he's back in an everyday role.
Right Field - Corey Hart - Who else? I guess not everybody can live up to their potential. Hart had a below-average season for a corner outfielder and missed a big chunk of time after having appendicitis in late August. Hart has been a disappointment the last two season but he'll get another chance in 2010.
Position Players - Bench
Catcher - George Kottaras - Kottaras seems like the logical choice for backup. Ken Macha doesn't like to play rookies and it would probably be best for the development of both Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy to spend next year in Triple-A rather than sit on the bench in Milwaukee.
Infield - Craig Counsell - The bench seems like it won't be veteran heavy, so Counsell will play a very important role yet again. Considering he had one of his best career years last year that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Anyone else consider him a future Manager?
Second Base - Hernan Iribarren - I'm giving the nod to Iribarren because he's paid his dues in the minors and he's shown enough in spring and brief call-ups to warrant it. Iribarren has hit .277 and .311 in two Triple-A seasons, improving in nearly every offensive category from year one to year two. I'd say he's earned his chance and the front office will have to make a decision on him soon.
Outfield - Jody Gerut - Why Gerut? Because their really aren't any other options. The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster that isn't starting is Lorenzo Cain and after his poor showing (in large part due to a knee injury) he'll need to start the year with Nashville. So unless someone else comes along, Gerut will be the guy.
Utility - Adam Heether - The final position player will likely be Heether because of his versatility and the fact that he had a career year in 2009. He hit .296 with a .396 OBP and 71 RBI's a year ago. He also played all over the diamond, seeing time at all four infield spots as well as the corner outfield positions.
1. Yovanni Gallardo - This one is a no-brainer, Gallardo is the best pitcher on the roster and will be counted on to anchor the starting rotation.
2. Randy Wolf - The newly acquired starting pitcher immediately becomes the second best starter on Milwaukee's roster. What I can't decide is if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
3. Dave Bush - Parra will likely be the better starter for the team this year but it's not best to put the two lefties back-to-back. Bush struggled with injury last year and it wouldn't be surprising to see him bounce back to form.
4. Manny Parra - This is a make or break year for Parra and the Brewers, if he struggles he might find his way into the bullpen and if he thrives he becomes an irreplaceable member of the team. Right now he looks more like a goat then an ace.
5. Jeff Suppan - Even if the Brewers don't sign another pitcher, I'm not sold on Suppan making the rotation. For now he gets the nod but spring training might change that. Suppan has been getting progressively worse and, barring massive improvement, has no business being a major league starter.
Long Relief - Chris Narveson- Narveson impressed with some late starts and barring an awful spring he should be the front runner for long relief in 2010. Jeff Suppan could be an option here as well, but only if the team feels better about Narvesen or they sign another starter.
Middle Relief - Claudio Vargas - As a starting pitcher, Vargas was boring and painfully average. His slow pace was frustrating to watch and he struggled with consistency. That same pace might be what suited him so well as a reliever. After coming to the Brewers mid-season he was one of the best members of the bullpen, posting a 1.78 ERA in 30 innings.
Mitch Stetter - The lefty specialist, Stetter wore down a bit at the end of 2009. He finished the year with good numbers, a 3.60 ERA in 71 games and will be the team's main left-handed option out of the pen.
Carlos Villanueva - I'm not really sure why Villanueva is virtually guaranteed a spot on the roster next year, but that seems to be the case. He has been impressively inconsistent and was more bad than good last year. He'll need to make major strides to stay around.
Chuck Lofgren - A rule 5 pick this offseason, Lofgren must stay on the Crew's active roster all season to stay with the team. If he has a good spring he'll win a spot in the bullpen mostly because I have no faith whatsoever in David Riske's ability to be an effective Major League Pitcher next season. John Axford might be an option here as well.
Setup - LaTroy Hawkins - One of the better setup pitchers in the league for the last ten years, Hawkins is at his best when he isn't closing games. As long as he isn't closing he'll have a fine season.
Todd Coffey - Coffey had a very nice year in 2009, but he pitched a career high 83.2 innings along the way. With Hawkins in the mix, it'll take some of the pressure off of Coffey. Right now the bullpen looks pretty solid. Right now.
Closer - Trevor Hoffman - He may be paid more than some think he's worth, but a good closer is a stabilizing force for the rest of the bullpen. It will be interesting to see how the other NL Central teams adjust to him in year two.