Who Will Roenicke Pick, Taylor Green or Brooks Conrad?
By Lou Olsen
We are just two weeks away from the start of the regular season. In all honesty, this Spring has not blessed us with a lot of feel good stories. Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, and Mat Gamel are the only players consistently contributing on offense. Pitching has been good, but not great. It has left me wanting something to really follow over the final stretch of spring.
The one thing worth watching, at least for me, over these final two weeks? Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad playing for the last bench spot.
Yesterday, RtB staff writer Curt Hogg wrote an article about Mr. Conrad. I suggest you read it. Curt is madly, passionately in love with Brooks Conrad. While I have made very clear my stance on young players, versus career bench players. I prefer the young guys, in this case Taylor Green. Neither of those opinions will sway this article, because this is about what Ron Roenicke wants, not what RtB writers want.
It is no secret at this point that the Brewers will start the season with 5 bench players, which is ultimately what has created this situation. Loading up on pitchers is a Milwaukee Brewers tradition that RR intends to keep.
Now, I am taking a lot of liberties and making a few assumptions. Most of those bench spots are locked down, Ron Roenicke is not a very secretive guy. So let’s re-cap who is pretty much a lock and why it could come down to a two man race for the last spot on the Opening Day Roster.
Norichika Aoki was not brought in from Japan to play in Nashville. So, the 1st spot belongs to him.
George Kottaras is Randy Wolf‘s personal catcher. Wolf does not like Lucroy to catch him, so the 2nd spot is his. No questions asked. Done deal.
Carlos Gomez is starting his third season with the team. He and Nyjer Morgan share Center Field duties….well, I shouldn’t say share. Gomez gets to start in CF when there is a left handed pitcher on the mound. 3rd spot is reserved for CarGo.
The 4th spot seemed like a done deal before ST started. And despite his pathetic offensive showing, Cesar Izturis could still keep the 4th spot. As we all know RR has a major soft spot for the “minor league coaching class of 2015”, so that is in Izturis’ favor. Along with him being the only real middle infield depth we have (or so I thought). HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I did not mention that he only has 2 hits this spring…in 23 AB’s. This could bode well for both Conrad and Green, but let’s just say Izturis is still spot number 4.
That leaves one lonely roster spot.
If you had read Curt’s lover letter to Brooks Conrad, you would know that the old man is having a nice spring. There is no doubt that he has a tremendous amount of value late in games with his bat. His only true achievements in baseball (that don’t include errors) are late inning heroics. Prior to ST I thought he was only a corner infield back-up, which is what I expected Taylor Green to be. Turns out he can play some 2nd base too. That bodes poorly for Cesar Izturis, but very well for Brooks.
What Ron Roenicke Sees: This one is easy, he sees Mark Kotsay. A veteran that he can plug in, late in games, and hope that he doesn’t strike out. RR probably sees a guy who is giving it everything he has got (I may not want Conrad on the roster over Green, but I will not discount his hustle and effort. The guy works hard) and that is important to a skipper like Ron. RR also sees a guy who can play 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. That makes Izturis a little more expendable, but it makes Green equally as expendable. Odds he gets the last roster spot — 52%
Taylor Green is young and really proved himself late last season. There is no doubt that Green belongs in the big leagues. The biggest thing working against Taylor is his lack of flexibility. He can play 3rd base and probably some 1st base, but from what I can gather that is about it. Nice Spring so far, .278 BA, a homer, and a couple of RBI’s. Tay Green is a budding young talent and in all likelihood, the eventual replacement for Aramis Ramirez. So, what kind of message are you sending him by banishing him to Nashville to start the season. I vote for Taylor Green…but it is not up to me.
What Ron Roenicke Sees: A very talented young kid, who probably will benefit just as much from spot playing in the Big’s as he will playing everyday in Nashville. RR probably also sees the lack of flexibility. Maybe Tay plays his music too loudly…Ron won’t like that. Damn kids with their iPods and Angry Birds. Even Ron’s love of Old Country Buffet can’t blind him from the fact that Green is really talented. Odds he gets the last roster spot — 48%
As much as it pains me, I think Curt was right and Brooks Conrad will be on the opening day roster. That doesn’t mean that Izturis won’t play himself out of a spot either. Both guys could end up making it in the end. But, as of right now these are the only two worth watching over the next two weeks. We’ll see what happens.