So, with Braden Looper in the fold, we know most, if not all of the following:
- Barring a trade, Jason Kendall, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron and Corey Hart will all be on the opening day roster, likely in starting roles.
- Ditto for Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Dave Bush, Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan.
- In the bullpen, Trevor Hoffman, Seth McClung, Carlos Villanueva and David Riske are virtually guaranteed spots. One more will almost certainly belong to a lefty, either Mitch Stetter or R.J. Swindle.
- Craig Counsell, Mike Lamb and Mike Rivera are all back and very likely to be on the opening day roster in bench roles.
Given all of those assumptions, 21 of the 25 opening day roster spots are already decided. So what's left?
In the bullpen, two or three spots remain for all of the following players:
- Todd Coffey. He still hasn't allowed a run as a Brewer and signed a major league contract to avoid arbitration. He's out of options.
- Jorge Julio. Signed to a major league contract, making just under $1 million plus incentives.
- Either Mitch Stetter or R.J. Swindle - whichever doesn't win the LOOGY job listed above. Throwing left-handed increases both pitchers' value, but Stetter posted a 3.20 ERA as a Brewer last season and Swindle posted a 1.98 ERA in AAA last season, so both guys already have some value.
- Eduardo Morlan. Rule 5 pick has to be offered back to the Rays if he doesn't make the roster.
- Mark DiFelice. 1.50 ERA in his last 14 outings as a Brewer (18 innings). Could be sent back to Nashville to work as a starter, but the Nashville rotation may already be full with Narveson, Gulin, Narron, Wright, and eventually Capuano.
Tim Dillard. Likely to be returned to AAA just because he has options remaining.
Joe Bateman, Luis Pena, Ramiro Mendoza, Omar Aguilar, Chris Narveson, Lindsay Gulin, Sam Narron and Chase Wright. Thanks for coming, guys. The eight of you and two or three of the guys above will likely pitch most of the innings for a nice staff in Nashville.
The Brewers could opt to go with a 13 man pitching staff and keep three of those guys, but then they'd have just one bench spot left. Instead, they'll likely keep 12 pitchers and pick two position players from the following list:
Tony Gwynn, Jr. Out of options, Gwynn either has to make the opening day roster or be exposed to waivers. However, he'll have to prove he's better than his .248/.300/.298 career MLB line and .243/.286/.286 major league equivalent from 2008, or he won't have much value. Also, his defense doesn't project well enough to help his chances: CHONE has him 11 runs below average in center.
- Chris Duffy. Likely Gwynn's primary competition for the backup center field spot, Duffy's offensive numbers aren't earth-shattering (.269/.328/.361 in his major league career), but he's a plus defender (UZR/150 has him 6.2 runs above average in center).
- Jason Bourgeois. Will likely have to win a spot as an outfielder, with Counsell and Lamb both occupying backup infield spots. Bourgeois hit .342/.404/.429 in Mexico this winter, but FanGraphs' 3 projections all have his 2009 OBP under .343.
- Hernan Iribarren. Likely hurt by playing the exact same set of defensive positions as Bourgeois. Hernan also had a nice winter, hitting .306/.388/.451 in Venezuela and detonating two indisputables. Projections are similar, if not a little worse, than Bourgeois'. Likely a long shot to make the roster in the first place, he's hurt even more by having an identical player in camp with him.
- Trot Nixon. If the Brewers go with 13 pitchers, Nixon and all the others below this point are already eliminated, as the last bench spot would have to go to someone who can play center. As a story, Nixon is very similar to Gabe Kapler at this point last year, but Kapler was three years younger.
- Brad Nelson. He'll have to prove he can play a corner outfield spot to have much value, as Mike Lamb and Craig Counsell already have the infield covered. Likely has a higher long-term upside than Nixon if he's not a defensive liability, which he very well may be.
- Casey McGehee. The Brewers insist they're eager to see what he can do, but unless he unseats Mike Lamb to platoon with Bill Hall, it's hard to imagine him making the roster. He has caught a little in the minors (including 17 games in 2008), so he could provide some value as a third catcher, but has never played the outfield, so if Lamb and Counsell are in, he's likely out.
- Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar and Angel Salome. Unless the opportunity for one of them to play full time arises, all three are likely ticketed for Nashville, where they can continue to develop their skills.
- Scott Thorman, Vinny Rottino and all of the extra catchers invited to camp. Again, thanks for coming, guys. Enjoy the improved post-game food while you can.
So, assuming everyone stays healthy, four of the 22 players listed above can make the opening day roster. Who do you want, and why? Also, if you were building this roster, would you keep 12 pitchers or 13? Discuss.