It's Opening Day and so I wanted to give you a final look at the roster and payroll. It is as follows:
|SP-Matt Garza: $12.5M||RP-Francisco Rodriguez: $3.5M||C-Jonathan Lucroy: $3.4M||BN-Martin Maldonado: $0.85M|
|SP- Kyle Lohse: $11M||RP-Jonathan Broxton: $9M||1B-Adam Lind: $7.5||BN-Gerardo Parra: $6.2375M|
|SP-Wily Peralta: $0.5M||RP-Will Smith: $0.5M||2B-Scooter Gennett: $0.5M||BN-Logan Schafer: $0.5M|
|SP-Mike Fiers: $0.5M||RP-Jeremy Jeffress: $0.5M||3B-Aramis Ramiez: $14M||BN-Hector Gomez: $0.5M|
|SP-Jimmy Nelson: $0.5M||RP-Tyler Thornburg: $.05M||SS-Jean Segura: $0.5M||BN-Luis Jimenez: $0.5M|
|RP-Neal Cotts: $3M||LF-Khris Davis: $0.5M|
|RP-Michael Blazek: $0.5M||CF-Carlos Gomez: $8M|
|Non-Roster- $5.075M||RF-Ryan Braun: $13M|
|Rotation Total: $25M||Bullpen Total: $17.5M||Lineup Total: $47.4M||
Bench Total: $8.5875M
Team Total: $103,660,000*
(*The players making league minimum will make $507,500. That number is reflected in the final total. Also, Brandon Kintzler can make an additional $25,000 via incentives. Matt Garza has $2 million deferred, but he can also make another $1 million via incentives. These numbers are not reflected in the team total.)
I was kind of surprised when the Brewers optioned Kintzler to AAA but it's understandable if he wasn't commanding his pitches. He's a contact pitcher and if he can't induce poor contact then he's just going to give up base hits. I wonder if his knee is still bothering him. Whatever it is I hope he's able to make a return because when he's on his game he's quite effective. The Brewers are still on the hook for his full salary, though he wasn't due much. By replacing him with Michael Blazek they only add another $500,000.
I'll admit to some trepidation with regards to Blazek. He's been rather mediocre in 8 minor league seasons and only saw a boost in production when he was moved out of the bullpen and into a starting role. His main problem is giving up walks due to poor control. He does have the ability to miss bats though. His K% and BAA have typically been strong so there is some upside here. As the long reliever he figures to play a minimal role in games so if he struggles the damage shouldn't be too great.
Logan Schafer earned the final bench spot. Matt Clark and Jason Rogers were finalists and we'll be sure to see more of them this year. As for Schafer, the positives are his defense and his speed both in the field and on the bases. He brings nothing to the plate though and doesn't seem to be very adept on the bases despite his speed. His main purpose is going to be as OF insurance allowing RRR to more liberally use Gerardo Parra in pinch hit opportunities and as a late inning defensive replacement. He'll probably also get some pinch running opportunities, though in my opinion that's just a really good way of getting your better bats out of the lineup in close games that might end up tied going into extra innings.
More or less I endorse the few moves the Brewers made over the offseason. It is important to acknowledge they acquired Parra and Broxton mid-season last year. They'll be relatively important contributors.
I like Lind at first base quite a lot even though I am very worried that he won't hold up for a whole season. However, contrary to popular belief, the Brewers actually have a number of back-ups at 1B including: Matt Clark, Luis Jimenez, Jason Rogers, and Shane Peterson. That's not even mentioning the 25-ish games Jonathan Lucroy will get there.
I also like the depth in the bullpen. After the top 7 they have: Brandon Kintzler, Rob Wooten, Corey Knebel, David Goforth, Taylor Jungmann, and maybe Jim Henderson and Johnny Hellweg depend on the time of year and how well their rehab goes. Then for non-roster players they have Ariel Pena and Chris Perez. I'm not sure how confident I'd be if either of them was in the pen right now, but they're pretty good to have as the FIFTEENTH and SIXTEENTH options!
The one thing I'm worried about is rotation depth. I cannot believe they did not do a better job in this area. They traded one reasonably reliable starter (Yovani Gallardo) and one reasonable depth option (Marco Estrada) but they didn't do anything to replace those two. I'm happy with the in-house options that will immediately slot into the active roster. I just wish they could have signed even one former major league starter to a minors deal. It didn't even have to be a terribly good starter. Just someone you'd feel was capable of lasting 6 innings in a game. Maybe they can do that with the recently released Wandy Rodriguez?
But hey, it's possible the Brewers won't need to dip deep into their rotation depth. If you look back at the last 5 years, the only time the Brewers have had to go over 6 or 7 starters is when one or two of their top 5 SP weren't any good. When they did have a solid top five they only went to 6 or 7 due to injury. I believe they have a solid top five now so injury is the only thing I'm worried about and Matt Garza is the only starter I'm really worried about missing time.
Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta have proven to be quite durable. Mike Fiers shouldn't be under any innings limit and his only noticeable injury was a freak accident. Nelson shouldn't be under a pitch limit either. He threw 180.1 innings between AAA and MLB last year and a 20% increase in workload puts him at 216 innings. It's doubtful he'll throw that many even if he makes 33 starts which as the fifth starter he won't.
The Brewers still need several things to break in their favor if they want to make the playoffs. I don't think it's quite as dire as so many traumatized Brewers fans seem to, but I'll acknowledge it's a tall order. The Cardinals and Pirates look to be very good. I like the Cubs, but I'm not sold on them this year. Too many questions with the offense, rookies, and starters after Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Maybe I'm being too quick to dismiss the Reds but I think it's more likely they're selling off at the trade deadline than in thick of the playoff hunt.
But enough of my rambling, it's going to be game time soon! So go and enjoy that. I know I will. Happy Opening Day everyone!
Contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts