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Jeff Bianchi or Elian Herrera?

It may not seem like it, but bench players are an important part of a team’s makeup. They are thrust into action when a starter goes down, and they are sometimes called upon to pinch hit in clutch situations. The backups are crucial to a team’s success.

In 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers were without a weapon off the bench, and suffered in the win-loss column because of it. Take a look at how the backups (with at least 100 at-bats) performed last season:

That’s nothing special. And that’s excluding Yuniesky Betancourt, who spent some time on the bench in 2013.

The Brewers should have a very different looking bench in 2014.Gindl, who was the most productive in the reserve role, isn’t guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster. He’ll need a superb spring training for that to happen. Schafer will almost definitely be the backup outfielder, as his is vastly superior to Gindl’s.

With the signings of first basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, along with Juan Francisco, Halton’s chances of making the Opening Day roster are slim to none.

A position battle I’m interested in is the one between utility infielders Elian Herrera and Jeff Bianchi.

Bianchi has spent the last two season with Milwaukee, but doesn’t have much to show for it. Herrera was claimed by the Brewers this winter after being designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In two major league seasons, Bianchi, 27, is a career .226 hitter with four home runs and 34 RBI. Herrera, 29, owns a .250 batting average with one home run and 17 RBI in 195 career at-bats. They can both play the infield, aside from first base, but Herrera is a switch hitter while Bianchi is stuck on the right side of the plate.

Herrera has put up solid numbers in the minors over his career, but has not been able to break through in the majors. That may change this season, as he is battling for a roster spot.

Frankly, I will be surprised if Herrera doesn’t beat out Bianchi. The Brewers know what Bianchi brings to the table; Herrera is more of a wild card. I think he has the potential to be a 2011 Nyjer Morgan type player; an energetic guy, who will bring a spark to the team.

What do you think?

Who Would You Rather See On The Opening Day Roster?

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Tags: Elian Herrera Jeff Bianchi Milwaukee Brewers

  • Justin Greif

    I’d like to point out that Bianchi finished 9th in Defensive WAR in the NL with 2, while only starting 54.

    • Justin Schultz

      I’d rather have a decent bat off the bench than a sound defender.

      • Troy Moench

        I would rather have a decent defender as the utilityman. Gennett/Weeks and Francisco/Reynolds will be the bats off the bench.

  • Jaith

    One important thing that wasn’t pointed out, is that Herrera can play the outfield, whereas Bianchi cannot. To me that is one of the biggest factors that will play into Herrera making the team over Bianchi, and I think it is an important asset that Herrera brings to the team. Especially if the Brewers only go with one backup outfielder. They will essentially need Herrera.