Even though the month of December is not over, I think we have a pretty clear picture of what this team is going to look like when pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in 2 months. Whether you like what they look like or not, things seem to be locked in. That being the case, we are going to take a look at the possible opening day lineup/roster for 2012.
First Base – Mat Gamel
Casey McGehee was rumored to be in the mix for the job formerly filled by Prince Fielder, but he was just traded to Pittsburgh…so it is finally Mat Gamel time. When I first took over this site, many of you asked me why Mat Gamel was not getting more time in the big leagues. It looks like you are finally going to get your wish. If Gamel can produce at half the level he did in the minors, then the kid will be just fine. Not sure if he will still be the first baseman come September…but, I think when the season starts, Gamel will be at first base.
Second Base – Rickie Weeks
No surprise here. Weeks is coming off of his first All-Star appearance and has no competition at the position. I will have the same concern for Weeks that I have every season, “when will he get hurt”. If he could stay healthy, just one time, I imagine that he would be the best 2nd baseman in all of baseball. Let’s hope that this season will be the one.
Shortstop – Alex Gonzalez
I hope we are all ready for some defense. As far as offense goes, Gonzalez is really no better or worse than Betancourt was…and I can certainly live with that. This guys defense, on the other hand, is far superior to anything we got from Yuni B. My hope is that the improvements to that side of the infield will allow Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum the ability to be less afraid of pitching for grounders. I firmly believe that with Gonzalez we will see a major improvement in our pitching staff, as well as the infield overall.
Third Base – Aramis Ramirez
I had been clamoring for Ramirez since free agency started. Aramis is the type of slugger who can still provide Ryan Braun with a level of protection in the 3 spot. Not only can this guy hit for power and drive in runs, but he is pretty handy with the glove. This is another major upgrade from last year, both offensively and defensively. While we can not expect him to replace the production we got from Prince, he is not that far off from what Prince does. This deal made sense, plus the guy took a $10 million dollar pay cut for this season in order to be a Brewer (Cubs offered $16 million in arbitration, his contract with us only pays him $6 million this season). I already love this guy.
Right Field – Corey Hart
Corey is a great player. We all know that already. There is no doubt that he earned his role as the lead-off hitter, so we can assume he will be batting 1st. His glove and range in the outfield is not ideal, but you can certainly do worse. No surprises here, we know what to expect as long as he stays healthy.
Center Field – Nyjer Morgan
T-Plush is back and will probably be playing with a sense of urgency. Morgan likes it in Milwaukee and for all intensive purposes, we all seem to like him quite a bit. He will have his first crack at free-agency in 2015. My guess, he will want to lock something up for the long-term to stay in Milwaukee. If Plushdamentals can perform in a similar fashion as he did in 2011, there is no doubt that he will be a Brewers for the next several years to come. Any time you have an outfielder with his range, who can bat over .300, you need to hang onto him for the long term.
Left Field – Carlos Gomez
Surprised? Me too. But let’s be real for a second, Bud Selig runs Major League Baseball. Bud Selig sucks. Therefore, I am going to assume that Ryan Braun will end up serving his 50 game suspension. That being the case, Carlos Gomez will probably be out there on opening day. His glove is an A+, but he is below average at the plate. Without Braun, the Brewers will need to really focus on defense in order to stay in games and Gomez is the best option to fill that void. I would not be surprised to see Logan Schafer or Caleb Gindl out there a few times, but to start the season you have to go with the veteran.
Catcher – Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy was a very pleasant surprise last year. I knew that he was a good catcher, but there were moments last season when he was a great catcher. His offensive production tailed off in the second half of the season, but he is by far the best option we have. One would assume that he will continue to get better. If he can improve on his .265 average, I will be very pleased. Lucroy is already a terrific game caller and seems very comfortable with his ability to make plays at the plate. Expect big things from Jon this season.
Projected Batting Order:
1) Corey Hart 2) Nyjer Morgan 3) Rickie Weeks 4) Aramis Ramirez 5) Mat Gamel 6) Alex Gonzalez 7) Carlos Gomez 8) Jonathan Lucroy 9) Pitcher
Even without Ryan Braun, I think this team will be able to stay in the NL Central Race with this roster. It may not be pretty, but if they can keep their heads above water until Braun returns, this is still the team to beat in the Central. Tomorrow I will take a look at the current pitching staff, primarily the bullpen because the starting rotation is exactly the same. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty good about this roster…pretty good indeed.
What are your thoughts? Do you like how the team is looking from a defensive and offensive standpoint? I want to hear your thoughts.