Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training Preview

The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers enter spring training with at least 55 players in contention for 25 roster spots. Lots of things can change between now and when the Brewers open their 2011 campaign on Thursday, March 31, 2011 against the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark. Absent injury, 20 roster spots are virtually locked down leaving five available roster spots. Below you will find a quick analysis of the Brewers’ spring training roster along with my spring training predictions of which players will make the opening day roster.

- Guaranteed: Jonathan Lucroy
- Borderline: George Kottaras and Wil Nieves
- Long-shot: Anderson De La Rosa, Martin Maldonado, Shawn Riggans, and Mike Rivera

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: Last year the Brewers entered camp with the carcass of Gregg Zaun as the starting catcher. Luckily this year the Brewers enter with Jonathan Lucroy as their starting catcher, a better younger catcher than Zaun. My prediction is that the Brewers keep Lucroy and Kottaras.

- Guaranteed: Yuniesky Betancourt (SS), Craig Counsell (INF), Prince Fielder (1B), Casey McGehee (3B), and Rickie Weeks (2B)
- Borderline: Erick Almonte (1B/SS), Luis Cruz (SS), and Mat Gamel (3B)
- Long-shot: Eric Farris (2B), Edwin Maysonet (2B/SS), and Zelous Wheeler (SS/3B)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: Every year Mat Gamel enters spring training as the “next big thing” to graduate from the farm system. Every year less than a week into spring training Gamel takes those expectations and shoves them right down the toilet adjacent to the training room where he spends most of his time. I am not letting Gamel suck me in this year so my prediction is that the Brewers only keep five infielders: Betancourt, Counsell, Fielder, McGehee, and Weeks.

- Guaranteed: Ryan Braun (LF), Carlos Gomez (CF), Corey Hart (RF), and Mark Kotsay (1B/OF)
- Borderline: Brandon Boggs (CF/RF), Chris Dickerson (OF), and Jeremy Reed (CF)
- Long-shot: Caleb Gindl (OF) and Logan Schafer (CF)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: The outfield looks set with Braun in left, Gomez in center, and Hart in right. Kotsay wouldn’t have signed without guarantees of making the roster so barring a calamity by Gomez or Kotsay, it looks like there is one spot up for grabs between Boggs, Dickerson, and Reed. My prediction is that the Brewers keep: Boggs, Braun, Gomez, Hart, and Kotsay.

Starting Pitching:
- Guaranteed: Yovani Gallardo (R), Zack Greinke (R), Shaun Marcum (R), Chris Narveson (L), and Randy Wolf (L)
- Borderline: Mark Rogers (R)
- Long-shot: Marco Estrada (R), Amaury Rivas (R), Cody Scarpetta (R)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: What a difference a year makes? In 2010 the Brewers started spring training with a six horse race for five starting spots between: Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Jeff Suppan, and Randy Wolf. In 2011, barring injury, the starting rotation will be: Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Narverson, and Wolf. As a result my prediction is that the Brewers will keep Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Narverson, and Wolf.

Relief Pitching:
- Guaranteed: John Axford (R), Zach Braddock (L), LaTroy Hawkins (R), Kameron Loe (R), and Takashi Saito (R)
- Borderline: Sean Green (R), Manny Parra (L), and Mitch Stetter (L)
- Long-shot: Mark DiFelice (R), Tim Dillard (R), Pat Egan (R), Robert Hinton (R), Justin James (R), Brandon Kintzler (R), Mike McClendon (R), Roque Mercedes (R), Dan Merklinger (L), Wily Peralta (R), and Zack Segovia (R)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: With the money some guys are getting paid (Hawkins and Saito) they are guaranteed a bullpen spot if healthy. Besides that, the Brewers have three really young promising arms (Axford, Braddock, and Loe) that look to form the back end of their bullpen. The wildcards are Parra and Stetter because both have been so up and down. My prediction is that the Brewers keep eight relief pitchers: Axford, Braddock, Green, Hawkins, Loe, Parra, Saito, and Stetter.

Opening Day Lineup:
1. Rickie Weeks (2B)
2. Carlos Gomez (CF)
3. Ryan Braun (LF)
4. Prince Fielder (1B)
5. Casey McGehee (3B)
6. Corey Hart (RF)
7. Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)
8. Jonathan Lucroy (C)
9. Zack Greinke (R)

Starting Rotation:
1. Zack Greinke (R)
2. Yovani Gallardo (R)
3. Randy Wolf (L)
4. Shaun Marcum (R)
5. Chris Narveson (L)

1. John Axford (R)
2. LaTroy Hawkins (R)
3. Kameron Loe (R)

Check back for more Brewers coverage throughout spring training.

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