The charge for the few open roster spots on the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers is on. With so many established players on the roster, open slots are few and far between. No starting position player spots are available and competition for the final two rotation spots is expected to be tight. Here are the spots up for grabs.
(2) Bench Players
Fifth Starting Pitcher
One Bullpen Pitcher
Let's dispense with the roster predictions, since every other spot is basically filled. It's time to focus on these five position battles as spring marches on. No stats just yet though, with only five game down the sampling size is just far too small.
The Competitors: Gregg "Triple G" Zaun was signed to be the starter, which leaves a mix of prospects and veterans duking it out for the right to be remembered with the likes of Keith Osik and Chad Moeller. On the veteran end, we have long time Florida Marlin Matt Treanor(right), who is best known for being married to gold medalist Misty May (who should be way hotter than she is with a stripper name like that). Treanor is 34 and has never played in more than 67 games in a season.
Also landing closer to the veteran end of the spectrum (though not really a veteran at all) is former Red Sox backup George Kottaras. Kottaras has only played 48 games in the big leagues, but at 27 is the second oldest competitor in the field.
Bringing some youth to the group are the Brew Crew's top two catching prospects. The diminutive Angel Salome (he's 5'7") and the Ragin' Cajun Jonathan Lucroy, of whom I am an unabashed cheerleader. The front office says that all four of these players have a chance to win the spot, so if you believe that then this should be a good group to watch.
The Front Runners: The more you look at it, the more you have to think this is really just a two man competition. The leaders of this pack are likely to be Treanor and Kottaras, the two most experienced. So as the competition rolls on those two will lead the way.
Where they Stand:
1. George Kottaras
2. Matt Treanor
T-3. Jonathan Lucroy
T-3. Angel Salome
The Competitors: Two spots available, five players (realistically) competing for them. In the perfect world you take one more outfielder and one more infielder. The oldest member of this group is Jim Edmonds(left). Joining him as a pure outfielder is the Aussie Trent Oeltjen.
There are also a pair of players that can be considered true utility players, in the form of prospect Adam Heether and the recently well-traveled Joe Inglett. Both players can play nearly every position on the diamond. Heether has yet to play in a major league game but opened eyes with a big season in Triple-A a year ago. Inglett has played parts of four seasons in the big leagues and is a career .293 hitter.
And there is also one pure infielder in the bunch as well. Hernan Iribarren, the slap-hitting second baseman is out of options and vying for a roster spot. There were hopes that Iribarren would be able to contribute as a utility player but he is really only defensively apt at second base.
The Front Runners: It's probably better to say who is on the outside looking in for this group of players. This seems to be an open competition, in part because Heether(right) could give the Brewers their only right-handed option on the bench and the fact that Edmonds has showed up in good shape and his early returns have been outstanding.
The guy who looks like he has the least chance is Hernan Iribarren, which is unfortunate. Iribarren has hit at every level he's played and paid his dues in the minor leagues. It's doubtful that Iribarren would clear waivers if he fails to make the opening day roster, but stranger things have happened.
Where they Stand:
1. Joe Inglett
2. Jim Edmonds
3. Adam Heether
4. Trent Oeltjen
5. Hernan Iribarren
The Competitors: This one is easy, there are really only two competitors for this spot, Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan. Both of which stunk last year. Yes, there will be some talk about Chris Narveson but it's very unlikely the team would want to go into the season with four left-handed starters. Some facts to remember, Bush's $4.125 million salary is not guaranteed unless he makes the opening day roster. Suppan's $12.5 million salary and $2 million buyout will be paid no matter what. Read into that what you will.
The Front Runner: *Deep Sigh* Suppan, purely for financial reasons. For Bush to win a spot Suppan would have to have an absolutely horrid spring while Bush must be near perfect. While that is a very real possibility, Jeff Suppan would be a very costly reliever (without mentioning the fact that he could be taking a bullpen spot from a more deserving pitcher).
Where they Stand:
1. Jeff Suppan
2. Dave Bush
The Competitors: With David Riske slated to start the season on the disabled list it takes him out of the equation. So the group of players that realistically have a shot at the 2010 bullpen is a fairly young bunch but with some interesting options. Lefties Chris Narveson(left), Chuck Lofgren and Scott Schoenweis (the token veteran) will all compete for the spot.
Joining them in open competition are right-handers John Axford, Chris Smith, Kameron Loe and maybe even the loser of the Bush-Suppan rotation battle. There are some other names that could be thrown in there (Chris Capuano and John Halama come to mind) and you may even hear some love for prospect Zach Braddock but their chances to start the year with the big club are minimal.
The Front Runners: With lefty-specialist Mitch Stetter already in the fold, it's likely the team will be interested in taking the best pitcher available. Chris Narveson wouldn't clear waivers after his performance a season ago. While he struggled in his first call-up he went down, tore up Triple-A, came back and pitched very well as a starter in September. He's got the lead for that final bullpen spot.
Where they Stand:
1. Chris Narveson
2. Jeff Suppan/Dave Bush
T-3. Scott Schoenweis
T-3. Chuck Lofgren
5. Everyone Else