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Your 2007 Milwaukee Brewers

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Raise your hand if you're sick of talking about this year's team.

That's what I thought.

Given that even roguejim seems to have used up his arsenal of trenchant barbs regarding the '06 iteration of los Cerveceros de Milwaukee, I move we begin discussing/trashing next year's team.

Of the players who appeared for the Brewers this year and are reasonably likely to make the team next spring, the following are signed though next year: Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Hall, Koskie, Rottino, Hart, Clark, Gwynn, Gross, Mench, Jenkins, Nix, Sheets, Capuano, Bush, Eveland, Jackson, Villanueva, Wise, Capellan, Turnbow & Sarfate--that's 23. Also probable to return are Francisco Cordero & Damian Miller, for whom the team possesses options. 25 guys; hey, we've got us a ballclub!

Not so fast.

If you're scoring at home (or even if you're alone), you'll notice that there are seven outfielders and only one catcher. Clearly, some of the outfielders must go before anything else can be done, so who's getting the Irish promotion?

Ironically enough, Corey Hart now seems more assured of a job than anyone else, so we'll pencil him in as the starting RF. One of Jenkins, Mench & Gross is redundant, and since neither Jenkins nor Gross can hit lefties, it's one of them. Let's see, should we go with the guy who hits .295/.365/.454 vs RHP and makes $7M or the guy who hits .299/.400/.516 vs RHP and makes $350K? I wonder.

Speaking of rich, crappy outfielders, Brady Clark is due to make $3.8M, and three CFs is one too many, so the smart move would be to jettison him and Jenkins in salary dumps or salary exchanges for more useful parts. Both Nix & Gwynn are left-handed, so they're unlikely to platoon, but both actually hit lefties well in the minors this year, though the usual SSS caveat does apply. Note that Gwynn's ISO (SLG-AVG) rose to .097 this year from his career mark of .063 & last year's total of .067. Brady Clark's ISO so far this year is .066.

With the positions freed up by whichever two outfielders are let go, the Brewers will most likely opt to sign a backup catcher and a backup middle infielder, giving them a roster somewhat like this:

backup C

backup MI




I have Eveland in the bullpen since he's a lefty & they have other young rotation options; however, it's worth noting that they've gone without a bullpen lefty before and that he's probably got a higher ceiling than Jackson or Villanueva, so either one of them could just as easily wind up in the pen.

If, as I suspect, they prefer to sign a veteran "innings eater" type (this includes Doug Davis and Tomo Ohka) rather than hand 40% of the rotation to guys who generally got shelled this year, one of Eveland/Jackson/Villanueva/Sarfate is likely going back to Nashville. Perhaps, in light of this year's bullpen-cum-Chinese fire drill, Doug Melvin will also want to acquire some "veteran presence" for the relief corps. If so, then another of the Young Guns quadrumvirate will be going back to Nashville. How much money will they have to sign these guys, plus the backup C and MI?

Fielder, Hardy, Rottino, Hart, Gwynn, Gross, Nix, Bush, Jackson, Villanueva, Eveland, Capellan and Sarfate are all pre-arb, so we'll estimate their contracts at $400K each, which is generous. Weeks' exact salary is a bit hard to determine, but near as I can tell he's making about $3.8M (probably less, depending what he made during his time spent in the Majors last year). The Brewers are on the hook for $2M of Koskie's salary. Sheets is making $10M, Wise $1M and Turnbow $2.3M. Miller's and Cordero's options are $3.75M and $5M, respectively. Hall, Mench and Capuano are arbitration-eligible, so we'll again err on the side of generosity and say they'll each make $3M.

Eleven (the 13 pre-arb players minus the two pitcher) times $400K is $4.4M, which plus the other salaries and speculated salaries is $41.25M. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts (the source for all these salaries), this year's payroll was just over $57.5M. That means that even if Mark Attanasio doesn't raise the payroll at all, Doug Melvin has more than $16M to play with for just a couple players, two of which, the backups, will likely be cheap (plus, as Jeff points out, whatever portions of Jenkins' and Clark's contracts the team is stuck with). That means it's time to go shopping.