Are the Brewers interested in Marwin Gonzalez? How tough is it to find a player willing to do a one- or two-year contract at second base? Do they have their sights on somebody else? I'm not familiar with the player they did sign ... Spangenberg? -- Ryan B., IndianapolisThe Brewers
Are the Brewers interested in Marwin Gonzalez? How tough is it to find a player willing to do a one- or two-year contract at second base? Do they have their sights on somebody else? I'm not familiar with the player they did sign ... Spangenberg?
-- Ryan B., Indianapolis
The Brewers signed left-handed-hitting Cory Spangenberg on Jan. 4 and if there's not another move before Opening Day, it looks like he would team with right-handed hitters Hernan Perez and Tyler Saladino to cover second base at the start of the season. If you check out their platoon splits, it's not the worst idea.
But even with all the infielders who have already signed or been traded, there remain options out there, players like Josh Harrison and, yes, Gonzalez. So far, the consensus is that agent Scott Boras will seek a longer-term deal for Gonzalez than Milwaukee would or could offer. He's certainly the type of versatile player that the Brewers like.
I asked president of baseball operations David Stearns on Wednesday, after the Brewers gave him a promotion and an extension, about where the club stands on further additions. You can parse his answer for yourself:
"We certainly remain engaged, both [on] free agency and trade," Stearns said. "I'm not going to handicap likelihoods, because I'm really bad at that. But we remain engaged. It wouldn't surprise me if we made a move over the next couple of weeks."
And asked specifically about the idea of settling on a platoon at second base with players already in-house, Stearns said, "I don't know. We're certainly evaluating a number of different options, and as I've said all along, we do think we have internal options with [Perez] and Saladino and Spangenberg, and then more guys coming behind them. If there's the right deal out there for us, then we'll jump on it. If not, we'll go in with what we have."
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Does Keston Hiura/Mauricio Dubon's chances of being the starting second baseman for the Brewers increase every time a free-agent infielder signs elsewhere?
-- Charlie B., New Berlin, Wis.
Not on Opening Day. Stearns could not have been clearer at the Winter Meetings that the organization wants Hiura and Dubon to log some Minor League time before they're considered for the big league roster. When they will be called up, I cannot tell you. Need, performance and other factors will combine to decide that.
The longer we go without a second-base signing or an Eric Thames trade, the more I wonder if we are going to hear about a proposal about Thames at first base, Travis Shaw at second and Jesus Aguilar at third. What are the odds of that football lineup taking shape?
-- Aaron H., Madison, Wis.
That would be a great alignment in the event of a benches-clearing brawl, but I do not see Aguilar playing long stretches at third base.
Prediction No. 1: Manager Craig Counsell will say, early in Spring Training, something along the lines of, "There's no rule that we have to 'anoint' one pitcher for save situations" and suggest that he will use any number of different men in the role. I think last summer he said he was not required to "knight" anyone. And he's right.
But here's another prediction: A few weeks into the season, someone effectively will have been knighted. I don't know if that is Jeremy Jeffress
or Corey Knebel
or Josh Hader
(Hader is less likely because of the well-treaded topic of his usage pattern), but I do know that almost every time a team talks about doing it by committee, someone steps forward and seizes the role. It shouldn't be -- and perhaps someone can point me to data disputing this -- but bullpens tend to operate better when there is a set closer. I know the players themselves prefer it.
Outside of that one job, however, I do expect fluidity of roles. The "anybody, anywhere, anytime" mantra of departed bullpen coach Lee Tunnell served the unit well last season.
Brad Brach reportedly reached an agreement Thursday with the Cubs. But to your point -- I assume you are referring to Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes going back to traditional starter roles -- I think it's a good one. Entering the offseason, before the decision to punt on Jonathan Schoop, I thought the bullpen might be an area in which Stearns might look to spend. Instead, he traded for lefty Alex Claudio (who later avoided arbitration with a $1.275 million contract) and Bobby Wahl, who makes the minimum, and indicated that the Brewers are content with their group of relief options. That doesn't rule out another move if one presents itself, obviously.
Here's a best guess of the depth chart. Those are long lists of starters and relievers, and nothing says that Milwaukee won't blend the roles again this year when need arises.
It wouldn't just change things for the Brewers, but all 30 clubs. The move to a 10-day disabled list did change the way teams and players approach those decisions, sometimes to the benefit of the team in terms of roster manipulation, but also often to the benefit of a player who can take the time off that he needs to heal rather than pushing through a nagging injury.
I don't know the right answer, but it surely would change the strategy involved.
I suppose I would pose the opposite question: Why would they release details about front-office contracts? It's not in their interest to do so. Information about player contracts gets out because it's often in the interest of the players themselves for that to be known.
Anyway, the Brewers have long held this policy, and are remarkably good at keeping that information private. It's still up for debate whether Stearns had one or two years left on his previous deal before signing the extension.
So great. And if you missed Eric Thames on the South Korean version of "The Masked Singer," our friends at Cut4 have us covered.
I'm sorry, guys, I still don't understand the uproar about the name on the building. Yes, it's nostalgia. But it changes nothing about the ballpark experience. You don't need to invest in new jerseys and caps and T-shirts. The memories made at Miller Park don't go away -- and for that matter, "Miller Park" wasn't the choice because Miller Brewing Company was a great local company and part of the fabric of our community and the name happened to match perfectly with the name of the team. Miller is all of those things, but the name is on the building because that great local company paid $40 million to put it there. Now another Wisconsin company has ponied up. I like American. I like Family. I think we'll get used to it.
Also, to answer the question: Yes, I am open to all offers to change my name, provided that said offer pays tens of millions of dollars.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.