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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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After finalizing Saito deal, Brewers' roster full

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The Brewers on Wednesday finalized their one-year contract with right-handed setup man Takashi Saito, a move that might signal the end of their major offseason acquisitions.

There is still business to be done, including talks with second baseman Rickie Weeks about a contract extension and four other arbitration-eligible players -- Prince Fielder among them -- to be signed for 2011. And Brewers officials are always on the lookout for waiver claims or budget signings just before Spring Training.

But considering the big moves already made, most notably the trades for starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, it made sense to ask general manager Doug Melvin whether he might have just added his final significant piece.

"Well, the roster is full," he said.

Indeed, Saito left the Brewers with a full 40-man roster five weeks and one day shy of the date pitchers and catchers must report to Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Ariz.

If Spring Training started tomorrow, the Brewers could field a team that looked like this:

Starting rotation: Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson.

Greinke is the big addition here, acquired in a six-player trade with the Royals on Dec. 19, but fellow right-hander Marcum, picked up two weeks earlier in a trade with the Blue Jays, is another significant addition. Both will join 2010 All-Star Gallardo atop the rotation, giving Milwaukee three pitchers who started on Opening Day last year.

Wolf rebounded from a puzzling start to his Brewers career and went 6-3 with a 2.67 ERA over his final 13 starts last season. He's more than adequate as a No. 4 starter. Fellow left-hander Narveson is a decent No. 5 considering he won 12 games last season and finished with a 4.99 ERA.

All five of those pitchers are under Milwaukee's control for at least the next two seasons, giving new pitching coach Rick Kranitz plenty to work with.

The concern could be depth in the event one of those five pitchers is knocked out by injury. Left-hander Manny Parra will presumably enter the season as the long man in the bullpen and could start if needed. After Parra, the Brewers would probably turn to a prospect like right-hander Mark Rogers, who made four late-season appearances in the Majors last season with 11 strikeouts versus three walks.

Bullpen: John Axford (closer), Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe, Sean Green, Manny Parra.

There's some depth -- Axford, Saito and Hawkins all have closing experience -- and some balance: Axford, Saito, Hawkins, Loe and Green are right-handers, Braddock and Parra are left-handers. There are also plenty of backups in players like Mike McClendon and Brandon Kintzler, who got their feet wet last September, and organizational newcomers Justin James and Rule 5 Draft pick Pat Egan.

Getting Hawkins back from a shoulder injury is big for the Brewers, but Melvin nonetheless brought in Saito and Green for depth. Both carry injury concerns; Saito injured his shoulder last September while with Atlanta, and Green missed most of the season with the Mets because of a rib-cage strain.

If healthy as a 41-year-old, Saito is a particularly nice addition. He posted a 2.83 ERA and one save in 56 relief appearances with Atlanta last season while holding opponents to a .203 batting average. In five seasons since coming to the U.S. from Japan, Saito has a 2.19 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).

Infield: 1B Prince Fielder, 2B Rickie Weeks, 3B Casey McGehee, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, reserves Craig Counsell and Luis Cruz or Mat Gamel.

The Brewers may miss shortstop Alcides Escobar's glove, but there's a lot of offense in those four starting infielders.

Fielder is due to reach free agency after 2011, but the trades for Marcum and Greinke were indications that Melvin is going for it, so Fielder will likely start the season in Milwaukee. There's plenty of incentive for him to have a huge year considering the payday that's looming next winter. Ditto for Weeks, though the Brewers are more hopeful about signing him long-term after his breakthrough 2010 season. McGehee's '10 was also something of a breakthrough considering he avoided the sophomore slump and led the Brewers with 104 RBIs.

The club was happy to re-sign Counsell because he's still proficient at shortstop, second base and third base and a pesky pinch-hitter. Cruz is also a shortstop, but Gamel is one of the Brewers' top prospects and is probably out of things to prove in the Minor Leagues. How he's handled this spring will be very interesting.

Outfield: LF Ryan Braun, CFs Carlos Gomez and Chris Dickerson, RF Corey Hart and reserves Brandon Boggs or Gamel.

Braun and Hart were All-Star Game starters in 2010 and are both locked into long-term deals. Gomez has a lot to prove after a disappointing first season with the Brewers, but benefitted in a big way when the Brewers included center fielder Lorenzo Cain in the Greinke trade. A Gomez/Dickerson platoon would make sense since Gomez bats right-handed and Dickerson left. Gamel started playing the outfield last season at Triple-A Nashville and didn't particularly like it, but it could be his ticket to the Majors.

If there's an area in which the Brewers could add, it may be the outfield. With so many other needs already filled, Melvin & Co. will have plenty of time to go shopping.
Source: MLB.com
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 06:32 PM
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Well I'm glad one team is pretty well settled. Spring Training isn't that far off--thankfully
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 07:53 PM
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This has got to put the Brewers in contention for a wild card. Its not long ago they had CC and went to the playoffs.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 09:21 PM
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I have to admit my least favorite part of baseball is all the haggling over contracts. They all get paid big bucks for playing a game and make more money in a year than some people make in a lifetime!
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