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Inbox: What are the Brewers' plans for 2B?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy fields questions from Crew fans
December 18, 2018

Everyone is clamoring for a big-name signing, mostly at second base. What are your thoughts? I'd prefer a one-year bridge guy for Mauricio Dubon/Keston Hiura and when/if they are ready, let them loose. Does it pay to go after a guy like DJ LeMahieu, etc.? -- @TonyTorres_1 on Twitter I

Everyone is clamoring for a big-name signing, mostly at second base. What are your thoughts? I'd prefer a one-year bridge guy for Mauricio Dubon/Keston Hiura and when/if they are ready, let them loose. Does it pay to go after a guy like DJ LeMahieu, etc.?
-- @TonyTorres_1 on Twitter

I think Tony's preference for a "bridge guy" is more likely to come to fruition than a big-name signing at second base, the starting rotation or elsewhere. To zero in specifically on second base, here are three reasons why:
1. Availability
We've gone over this before: There are a ton of capable players in free agency and potentially available in trades that can play second base. It might have been the deepest position going into the offseason, and as I type this, Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy are the only ones who has moved so far. There's value available beyond the big names, which include LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie. The Brewers reportedly have checked in on Lowrie, which should surprise no one because a big part of general manager David Stearns' job is to understand the market.
2. Cost
This is an unpopular topic, but it's a simple fact that the Brewers are not as well-positioned to spend as they were last year, when they invested something like $150 million to acquire Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Jhoulys Chacin in a combination of signings and a trade. Besides the logic of spending modestly on second base, it might be a matter of some necessity if you want the Brewers to be able to add some pitching depth and explore what's out there at catcher.
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3. What's coming
Tony referenced the two guys on the way: Dubon and Hiura. Stearns has made it crystal clear that neither will be the Opening Day second baseman; Dubon is coming back from ACL surgery, and Hiura has yet to take an at-bat above the Double-A level. But assuming they aren't used as trade currency, both players are making their way to the Major Leagues rather rapidly. Dubon could always move around but Hiura looks like a second baseman -- unless he is moved to the outfield at some future date. Acquiring a sort of stopgap at the position until one or both of those prospects is ready makes sense to me.

The Brewers like to lay low in their pursuits (who saw Cain and Yelich coming?), but if they are doing so on Realmuto, it's an all-timer of an under-the-radar effort. All of the reporting that I have seen suggests that other clubs are being far more aggressive on Realmuto. Someone will pay a bounty in prospects to get him, and I would rank the Brewers as a longshot.
As an aside regarding catchers: The Brewers met in person at the Winter Meetings with free agent Wilson Ramos, but I've heard they never made a formal offer before he signed a two-year deal with the Mets.

I'm going to keep including a question like this until we all un-train ourselves from thinking this way. As I said last time, 11 different pitchers started a game for the Brewers last year in the regular season. The Dodgers and Red Sox used the same number. We get too fixated on the five-man Opening Day rotation and forget that the important thing is having depth.
So, I have eight starters on the Brewers.com depth chart right now, roughly ordered as Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Jimmy Nelson (who is coming back from shoulder surgery) and Brent Suter (who is coming back from elbow surgery and won't be an option until late in the regular season). Junior Guerra, Adrian Houser and Aaron Wilkerson are probably Nos. 9-11 right now. Minor League pitcher of the year Zack Brown could be No. 12. And with months remaining before Opening Day and the market still stocked with arms (including Wade Miley), you know Stearns is going to add to this group.
I'm as guilty of anyone as having fun with projecting the Opening Day rotation. But let's make it our group resolution to change our thinking heading into 2019.

It should be better. The complex was redesigned around a central agility field that is open to fans, and adjacent to the new weight room and covered batting cages. The idea, as it was laid out when the team released renderings last spring, is that fans will pass through those spaces on the way to the stadium entrance on game days. Assuming the agility field actually gets used, it should be great for fans.
What I am still not sure about is the location of pregame batting practice. Until now, that has happened on a back field not accessible to fans except for those who peek through wind flaps on the fence. In the redesign, there will now be two full fields out back, one of which has dimensions identical to Miller Park. If batting practice happens there, it might remain out of most fans' view. That's one of the things we're all curious about heading into this spring.
• Maryvale Baseball Park renovation project information
My two cents: Beat the rush by planning an early visit, before the games begin. Those workouts have typically taken place on a different set of fields that put fans right in the middle of the action. Maryvale is one of the most intimate complexes in the Cactus League at that time of year. The only downside is that you're taking a slightly higher risk of chilly weather. But I trust you'll be able to endure 60 degrees.
Sophia Minnaert visited the complex in recent weeks and said it's coming into focus. I believe you'll get to see some of that in a future edition of her Brewers "On Tap - Unfiltered" series.

I'm not sure why you would trade Jesus Aguilar, a minimum salary player coming off a 134 wRC+ and 35 home runs, unless he's blocking a great prospect or you think he's going to regress like crazy. The models I've seen predict some regression, but still have Aguilar as a well-above-average offensive producer. I'd keep him, especially when you figure in the positive things he does in the clubhouse that do not show up on the stat line.

I actually don't think it's the craziest idea if Troy Tulowitzki is open to that kind of move, though as Stearns alluded to during the Winter Meetings, 28 other teams are looking at how they might fit the former All-Star into their plans as a bounceback candidate. It would depend on whether he sees Milwaukee as the best opportunity. And I would not go more than one year on a deal.

Kyle, you're not the only one to ask. The ball and glove has become more and more prominent since the Brewers tweaked the royal blue to navy. In my humble opinion, it's a great way to take something old and make it feel fresh. All I can tell you now is that making a permanent change back to the old logo would be a long process that requires MLB approval, and it's not happening for 2019. After that, we'll see.
Happy New Year, gang. I'm thankful for all of you.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.