Barring something unforeseen, you can almost certainly pencil Mat Gamel, Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura into the Opening Day starting lineup, with Alex Gonzalez on the bench (or starting at first base, if Ron Roenicke is serious). That leaves one spot available, so let's look at the five candidates to fill it.
- Advantages: Green is a .289/.370/.452 career hitter in the minors, including 197 games at AAA (where his batting line actually went up to .311/.386/.513). He has some experience in the minors at first, second and third base.
Disadvantages: Green hasn't shown much in limited major league opportunities, hitting just .207/.266/.343 over 78 games between 2011 and 2012. Last year the Brewers sent him back to AAA because he wasn't getting enough playing time to stay sharp. This year he could fall into the same usage pattern. He also has two options remaining.
- Advantages: Murphy is older and has more major league experience than Green, although not a lot more. He's played in 244 major league games, including 52 as a Marlin in 2012. He can play shortstop, although with Alex Gonzalez around his value doing so is somewhat negligible.
- Disadvantages: Murphy's major league batting line is roughly the same as Green's at .205/.270/.373. He's played parts of six seasons in AAA as a member of four organizations, implying several teams haven't seen him as indispensible. He might be a younger Cody Ransom.
Advantages: Bianchi was a pretty solid infield prospect in the Royals organization before losing the entire 2010 season to injury and having a rough year in 2011. He bounced back to hit .325/.379/.429 in 92 minor league games last season. He's out of options, so he has to make the team or be exposed to waivers.
- Disadvantages: Bianchi also hasn't shown much in the majors, hitting just .188/.230/.348 in 33 games as a Brewer last season. He's also almost exclusively a shortstop, making him somewhat redundant on this roster.
- Advantages: Morris hit .303/.357/.563 with 28 home runs en route to the Southern League MVP award a year ago. He easily has more offensive upside than anyone on this list and, with Alex Gonzalez available to back up second, short and third, having a bat-only bench player wouldn't hamstring the Brewers too much.
- Disadvantages: Morris has never played a professional game above AA. He's also purely a first baseman.
- Advantages: Crosby has the most experience of this group, with 747 major league games over eight seasons. He has a reputation as a slick defender and can play all over the infield.
- Disadvantages: He hasn't played professional baseball at any level since appearing in 70 games in 2010 and hitting just .220/.294/.298. He's also somewhat redundant with Alex Gonzalez on the roster.
Others to consider: I guess Scooter Gennett fits in this conversation, but is really only a second baseman and also has no experience above AA.
My prediction: I think Taylor Green opens the season on the roster, but once Corey Hart's healthy none of these guys will still be with the team.