There has been a lot of news coming out of Maryvale this past week leading up to Opening Day on Monday. The 25 man roster has now been set and the starters have been coined; there was not any surprises for the positional players that were tabbed to start. The only real (somewhat) surprise was Carlos Gomez batting first in the order and Jean Segura hitting 8th. The bull pen really didn't have any shockers either, with the release and then re-signing of Chris Perez and Rob Wooten being sent to (AAA) Sky Sox to get some work, the Brewers decided on suiting up 8 relievers for regular season play. Some where were caught off guard with Ron Roenicke assigning both Matt Clark and Jason Rogers to Colorado Springs, which may have been a head scratcher due to their success (especially the former) in Spring Training, considering the uncertainty behind Adam Lind's reoccurring back issues. Lastly, Elian Herrera was optioned to the Sky Sox while Luis Jiminez (infielder), Hector Gomez (infielder) and Logan Schafer (OF) are heading north to Milwaukee. All in all, there were no late trades that added to the active roster nor was there any last minute signings, like in 2013 when Kyle Lohse signed in late March. Everything is set....including that back end of the rotation.
First things first is First Base. We all know the questions behind Adam Lind and if he can stay on the field long enough to earn his keep. With that being said, Brian Anderson was with Chuck & Wickett (WSSP) morning show and he had some reassuring things to say about Lind. For one, it's his thinking as well as his brothers, who is a scout for the Rangers, that Adam Lind will annihilate the ball in Miller Park. He is destined for a big offensive year in the hitter friendly park and be able to provide that needed power at 1B. With regards to his back, BA reminded me of something.....that the Brewers have one of the best medical staffs in Major League Baseball and they are known to take great care of ailments and nagging injuries that spur up. It was nice to hear him back this up with a great example of Trevor Hoffman and when he came to finish his career in Milwaukee for 2 seasons. That was one of the main reasons he signed with Milwaukee and he still praises them today as one of the best staffs in baseball. This team of advance medical specialists should (hopefully) be able to set forth a season plan in accordance with Roenicke with regards to days off/rest and subbing him out late in games for defensive match-ups and the like.
One other reassuring topic that was discussed by Brian Anderson was that Milwaukee will have two solid back up options in Jonathon Lucroy and Gerardo Parra, who just started playing some 1B and has looked way better than expected. In fact, it is sounding like Parra will find himself playing a lot at the hot corner. If Khris Davis continues to mature and fine tune his defense, there is simply no room for Parra to play. Roenicke said 2 weeks ago that it's a given that Parra will be playing a considerable amount. Which is good, any fair minded fellow would want a 2 x Gold Glover out on the field. So, when all is said and done with Cactus League ball, I'm feeling far better with Lind moving forward, or, at least the back up plan if he falls.
Opposite of that is the back end of the rotation. I am extremely scared about what is going to happen when Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson are going to be relied upon to carry the team. Yes yes, Mike Fiers had his 2 flash in the pan 10 game spans where he was lights out. That's nice and all, but let us all be real here, can he be consistent and relied upon? Likewise with Jimmy Nelson and his below average starts that he had last year. Yes, Nelson is young and did add a third pitch to his arsenal, but the chatter down in Arizona is that he has been spending too much time perfecting that third pitch and not paying much attention to the command of all of his pitches. This is all chatter I have been hearing from Adam McCalvy and Tim Allen on Wisconsin sports radio. I am one scared son of a bitch regarding Fiers and Nelson, simply because we don't have that back up plan of Marco Estrada coming in (and giving mad home runs).
The bull pen looks just fine and should be just fine, in my eyes. I was thinking Tyler Thornburg would start out in AAA-Sky Sox in order to work on stretching him out for when he's needed as a fill in starter. But Thorburg should still be able to work on eventually becoming a starter due him being one of the two long relievers in the pen. K-Rod will be the closer with Jonathon Broxton and Jeremy Jeffress as the set up men. One would think that Will Smith will not be relied upon and over used as much, like he was in 2014. If used properly and there aren't too many injuries in that pen--he is destined for a killer season.
Some are a little upset that Carlos Gomez is going to lead off for the Crew. Yes he tends to hack a lot and swing for the fences, which we have all seen him do. However, Ron Roenicke was on the Bill Michaels Show earlier this week and he had some very interesting points to make about Gomez. One sure fire thing is that Gomez is very disruptive. Upon hearing him say that I thought to myself that was very rude and not manager-like for him to say such a thing. But alas, he was simply talking about Gomez at the plate in the lead off spot. You see, Gomez is like a 7 year old with ADD. You just don't know what the hell he's going to do in that batters box. One thing that will be going through that opposing pitchers mind will be, "This son of a bitch is going to swing at the first pitch I throw". Which is exactly what we want him to think. RR said that he's hoping to see a lot of 1-0 counts that will eventually lead to hitters count for Gomez. Hopefully Gomez is able show some patience at the plate and wait for ideal pitches in certain situations, which should come with him maturing (he's 29 years old).
Another thing RR noted was that Gomez is always a threat on the bases and will have the pitcher guessing and worried what this crazy man from the Dominican is up to. Will he steal? Is he trying to distract me? What the hell is this guy doing? Well, again, it's all little (and often times meaningless) mind games, but in the grand scheme of things--let's hope RR is right and Gomez is disruptive in the lead off spot. I do like the bottom of the order because you still have some pop down there with Scooter Gennett (7th) and Segura (8th). Nothing that is power bomb type stuff, but enough potential offense down there that really rounds out this order. On the surface, there IS NOT ONE SINGLE WEAK SPOT in this line up. Not one. In fact, I would go on to argue that this line up is one of the best in baseball, or the potential to be one of the best. There is just too many headaches in that line up. As it stands, the only slight question mark is Khris Davis (who has proven to be effective) and the aging Aramis Ramirez hitting clean up.
All in all, I'm one excited grown ass man. This team has the ingredients to be a wild card come the end of September. All eyes are on their individual responsibility of being smart on the bases and at the plate. That's the one thing that bit us in the ass last season (and the first half of spring training this year). Here's to a promising season.