Making Room for Coffey and Davis

April 07, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Milwaukee Brewers Todd Coffey does in signature run to the mound..Milwaukee Brewers won over the Colorado Rockies 5-4, taking 2 out 3 games in the home opener at Miller Park..Mike McGinnis / CSM.

Both Todd Coffey and Doug Davis are set to rejoin the team in the next couple weeks, and you know what that means — more difficult roster decisions for Doug Melvin.  Coffey is reportedly ready to be activated when the team begins play in Colorado on Friday, while Davis figures to be activated on June 29 after a couple rehab starts in Nashville.

Unlike a few weeks ago, when we were trying to figure out ways to get Chris Capuano on the roster, there are no easy calls.  As a whole, the pitching staff has been pitching much better lately — yes, even Trevor Hoffman.  So what are the most likely roster moves?

Well, when Coffey returns:

Demote Zach Braddock to AAA. I’d hate to see it, because I’m one of those that still believes Braddock is one of the better arms in the Brewers bullpen right now.  Unfortunately, if the Brewers have taught us anything this year, it’s that they’re willing to sacrifice putting their best players on the field if it means preserving their depth.  Braddock, John Axford, and Carlos Villanueva can still be sent down — Chris Smith, Kameron Loe, and Chris Capuano can not.  Axford and Villanueva won’t be going down anytime soon.  Even though Smith has yet to show much of anything at the major league level, I’m going to bet the Brewers won’t want to risk losing him before they have to.  Even if Braddock goes down, I have the feeling he comes up for good later this season.  His stuff is just too good to keep getting shuttled back and forth between Milwaukee and the minors.

That doesn’t mean Smith is safe for long.  If Davis is ruled ready to return after his two rehab starts:

DFA Chris Smith. I can understand not wanting to lose him due to the numbers he was putting up in Nashville as the Sounds’ closer, but it’s important to remember that he was a 29-year old pitching in Triple A.  In the majors, he hasn’t shown anything more than AAAA ability.  Even if you lose him, pitchers like Smith are a dime a dozen, and they’re all as cheap as he would prove to be.  I also don’t necessarily buy the depth argument for keeping Smith — we should remember that Mitch Stetter is still in Nashville if the need for a future call-up presents itself.

Once Davis is back, he’ll move back into the starting rotation, likely replacing either Manny Parra or Chris Narveson.  If today’s start was any indicator, Narveson’s the guy who should probably be taken out of the rotation.  Parra has been a pleasant surprise since he was put back into the rotation, and with him being out of options next year, the Brewers really need to figure out if he can stick there long term this season.  Just because that’s the move that should be made doesn’t mean it’s the one that will be made, though — remember how sure we were that Parra would be the one to replace Jeff Suppan in the rotation a couple months ago?

Of course, if Doug Melvin really wants to make a splash while making room for either one, he could always do something drastic, like…

Give Hoffman the Suppan treatment. But let’s not kid ourselves, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.  Counting his outing in the series finale against the Angels, Hoffman has now tossed four straight scoreless outings.  Still a far cry from what we were all expecting from him this year, but he’s slowly starting to look like a semi-useful member of the team, which is more than we could say for Suppan.

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