Brewers’ 25-man almost set

The Brewers’ 25-man roster is almost set, it appears, with the following almost certainly to occur:
Backup catcher–With Vinny Rotino’s recent demotion to AAA Nashville to become the starting catcher for the Sounds, Eric Munson looks ready to be named the backup catcher for the Crew, while Doug Melvin will attempt to deal Mike Rivera, as Rivera would probably decline another trip to the minors to be used as a backup, and J.R Hopf and/or Brian Munhall could fill in as a reserve for the Sounds. Munson’s had a .467 OBP this spring versus Rivera’s .310; Munson is also a year younger than Rivera, and bats left-handed, something Yost would love to have available in his arsenal when needing to rest Jason Kendall a day or two each week. Oh, and Munson can play first in a pinch.
6th infielder–With Munson now available as a backup first baseman, Joe Dillon’s value to the parent club would appear to have diminished. But Dillon would represent a right-handed pinch hit option off the bench, something that Yost would like to have as the rest of the bench–Munson, Counsell, and either Gross or Nix–is likely to be all lefties. Dillon’s .421 OBP this spring is decent, and Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin just doesn’t seem to be ready to promote Hernan Iribarren, and Abraham Nuñez has had a poor spring. Oh, and Dillon can play the outfield in a pinch.
3rd starting outfielder, first 25 games–Tony Gwynn, Jr., with his left-handed bat, his .488 OBP in spring, and his ability to bat second in the line up until Mike Cameron is eligible, appears to be the front runner. Gwynn would not only enable Yost to not need to reshuffle the batting order when Cameron is eligible, he would also allow Corey Hart to start the season in right field, where he’ll play when Cameron takes over in center. Neither Laynce Nix’s .368 OBP, Gabe Kapler’s .341 OBP, nor Gabe Gross’ .291 OBP in spring are strong enough to negate the advantages of using Gwynn for the first month. Gwynn may either stay on the Brewers’ bench and/or return to Nashville to be an everyday starter.
Reserve outfielder, first 25 games–Gross would seem to have a slight edge due to his performance with the club in the second half of 2006, but Nix is certainly making a strong case to be included in the trip to Milwaukee. Who backs up Braun, Hart, and Gwynn, along with Dillon, could depend on if any other club has interest in Gross or Nix, or if either have options left. Gross does not have any options left, and Nix needs to be added to the 40-man roster as well. Keeping Gross or Laynce Nix could very well be the toughest decision of the spring for Doug Melvin and Ned Yost.
Starting rotation–The injuries to Yovani Gallardo and Chris Capuano have made this decision for Melvin & Yost–Claudio Vargas, Carlos Villanueva, and Dave Bush will join Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan in the rotation to start the season; Bush will likely be the #5 starter until Gallardo’s return, and then either sent to the bullpen or down to Nashville…unless Villanueva or Vargas struggles or can be dealt. I don’t think Capuano is being considered for the rotation any longer, and will work out of the pen when he returns, possibly resulting in a trade or designation for another reliever.

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