Inbox: Is Braun's No. 1 spot at first base?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions

March 6th, 2018

Where will the majority of 's at-bats come from, first base or left field? What are the chances he's the Opening Day starter at first?

-- @tony_montalto on Twitter

Braun isn't saying much since beginning his spring fling at first base, but judging by the volume of questions from fans, it remains a big topic of curiosity. To answer Tony's questions: The idea is that Braun will continue to get the majority of his at-bats in the outfield and only play first base on a part-time basis. But because the Brewers seem destined to match up against a left-hander on Opening Day in San Diego (Clayton Richard), there's a real chance he starts at first base on March 29.

Now, this all could change. One injury to an outfielder, or a trade from that surplus, and the logjam is suddenly gone. Braun himself has expressed the importance of getting to Opening Day healthy, since all of this infield work puts a stain on his surgically repaired back. All parties are being mindful of that. And carries his own injury risk after battling leg issues for a significant chunk of last season.

A change on any of those fronts could totally alter the plan, which is why Braun and Craig Counsell are being so adamant that all they are thinking about right now is getting Braun a bunch of experiences at the position. So far, so good on that front, Counsell said on Sunday.

You helped to answer your own question with the last part; the fact that he has been injury-prone in recent seasons is an argument for playing him some at first base, where there is less toll on the body. And he wasn't bad fielding the ball at third base in 2007, he was bad throwing the ball. The fact he came up as an infielder is actually one of the reasons Counsell & Co. are so confident that he'll adapt to first base.

Santana knows he has lots of room for improvement defensively, and he sounds pretty intent on improving that part of his game this season. He's certainly got the arm for right field. Let's see if he can get better in the other elements of that position.

I want to say yes to this so bad. Aguilar was productive when he got at-bats last season, including off the bench, he's off-the-charts good in the clubhouse and he trimmed down significantly this spring. But the Brewers plan to carry eight relievers for most of the season, and when you add it up (as I did right before the start of Spring Training), I can't find a spot for him. Aguilar is out of Minor League options.

Something's got to give here, unless the Brewers make some other move.

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I've got Chase Anderson because, when he was healthy, he was Milwaukee's best starting pitcher last season not named Jimmy Nelson. It's Anderson or at this point, and the argument for Davies is that he made all of his starts and got better as the Brewers played deeper into contention.

The Brewers' unique program for their starters is making it very challenging to guess. I'm pretty sure Counsell is enjoying keeping us all in suspense about what is -- let's admit it -- largely a ceremonial honor.

I've gotten no indication of that. Just like and the catcher position, it appears that David Stearns and the Brewers' baseball analysts believe they are better going with the in-house options and preserving some flexibility to add at midseason if need be. There is optimism that is somewhere between his terrific 2016 season and terrible 2017, and paired with a healthy , that could be a productive platoon. Then you have and , both of whom look like they'll make it to the Majors, waiting as Minor League depth.

It's too bad, because Walker can help a contender. He was probably right when he told The New York Times last week that the move to analytics has hurt players known for their contributions off the field. There's no metric for that.

Right now, it looks like Triple-A. Tough to swallow for one of MLB's nine 20-homer, 20-stolen base guys last season, and a dynamic defender. But there's a lot of baseball to play before Opening Day.

If it's true that Stearns didn't make that nine-figure offer to , after all, then I have a hard time seeing the Brewers going for . The wild card there is agent Scott Boras, who sometimes goes straight to ownership to find homes for his players (see: Kyle Lohse). Stearns says the Brewers like who they have in-house, and I believe that's true. But someone is going to sign Arrieta, and Alex Cobb, and until we see them in another uniform, there's at least a chance they land with a Brewers team that has an open spot and some money to spend.