If you have yet to read the first part of this series, you can view it here. I left you with the following 25 man roster to think about.

  • C-J.Lucroy
  • 1B-M.Gamel
  • 2B-R.Weeks
  • SS-C.Barmes
  • 3B-K.Kouzmanoff
  • LF-R.Braun
  • CF-N.Morgan
  • RF-C.Hart
  • OF-C.Gomez
  • IF-T.Green
  • IF/OF-J.Hairston
  • C-George Kottaras
  • PH/DH-R.Branyan/N.Johnson/J.Cust
  • SP-Y.Gallardo
  • SP-Z.Greinke
  • SP-S.Marcum
  • SP-R.Wolf
  • SP-C.Narveson
  • RP-J.Axford
  • RP-R.Harden
  • RP-K.Loe
  • RP-M.Parra/Z.Braddock
  • RP-M.Estrada
  • RP-B.Kintzler/M.McClendon/F.De la Cruz/M.DiFelice
  • RP-R.Igarashi/K.Davies/P.Neshek/V.Padilla

I’ve been on the PH/DH role being a part of the bench for awhile now in an attempt to bring a much better bat than the typical NL bench would hold. This view on the lineup isn’t something revolutionary as Matt Stairs made one hell of a living as such a player, and Jim Thome will now be serving a similar role in Philadelphia. It requires the versatility of a player like JHJ to cover what becomes the 5th OF and 2nd backup IF position. (I’m certainly not saying to treat him as such in terms of playing time.)

The three players I selected to fill that role, assuming of course that a different 1B isn’t signed and Gamel is pushed into that role, are guys that are likely to accept such a role on the team for little more than league minimum. (Jim Thome would have been an awesome choice, but I didn’t think it was realistic to expect him to accept that role) Russell Branyan just can’t seem to get any love around baseball with only 146 PA in 2011 with the Angels and Diamondbacks especially after hitting .251/.347/.520/.867 and .232/.323/.487/.810 as an everyday player in 2009 and 2010. Adding an .800 OPS player to the lineup during interleague play is a huge step over Mark Kotsay who hit .270/.329/.373/.702 for the Brewers in 2010. Nick Johnson doesn’t have the pop in his bat that Branyan has, but he provides a much better OBP , a switch hitting bat, and being 3 years younger than Branyan. The major issue is he’s essentially made of glass, and while I believe moving to a PH/DH role on an NL team would lessen that risk it’s still a risk with signing him. (That and his paltry .201/.316/.332/.648 line in AAA last season) Jack Cust would be third on my list of guys to fill that role. He’s really fallen off the last few years after his breakout 2007 season. The one positive in his side, similar to why I like Kouzmanoff, is the fact that he’s played half his games in Safeco and the Coliseum and a transition to a more hitter friendly ballpark offsetting or reversing his decline. Unlike Branyan and Johnson, though, he doesn’t really provide insurance for Mat Gamel at 1B as he’s only a DH at this point in his career.

Now onto the 3 relief spots that have multiple competitors in my proposed scenario. Like I stated in part 1, I’d like to think the Brewers could add one of Igarashi, Neshek, Davies, or Padilla on a league minimum deal and another 2 on minor league deals/spring training invites. The idea for those spots is to have as many bodies as possible to throw against the wall and see who sticks. Kameron Loe has turned into a pretty solid reliever for the Brewers the last 2 seasons producing a 3.18 ERA/3.21 FIP/3.00 xFIP in 130.0 IP after going to Japan and being banished to the Japanese minor leagues. It’s just one example of many relievers that seemingly come out of nowhere to be effective.

That’s the gist of why I structured the roster the way I did. In the second part of this post, I want to discuss the potential extensions for Zack Greinke and/or Shaun Marcum. Greinke is coming off of a 3.83 ERA/2.98 FIP/2.56 xFIP season. (3.37 ERA/3.04 FIP/3.27 xFIP over the last 4 seasons) He’s turned himself into more of a GB pitcher over the last 4 seasons especially when runners reach base. This type of pitching has led to a pretty big disconnect between his ERA and his FIP over the last 2 seasons. It coincides with some terrible infield defenses behind him. (Hello Yuni B!) The route I want to go would significantly improve the infield defense behind a strong defensive independent groundball pitcher, which can only be a good thing going forward. I’d try to negotiate an extension citing his ERA over the last 2 seasons in an attempt to lower the price. Maybe the Brewers could extend him for 4 years and $60 M even though he’d likely be worth a 4 year $72 M extension.

Marcum on the other hand is someone I would avoid signing longterm. Even though he had a solid year in 2011 while being a fly ball pitcher, he’s still at risk for a Bronson Arroyo type season with the HRs especially considering he’s a soft tosser over the age of 30. I don’t feel it’s wise to pay Marcum $10 M+ per season with that risk being there. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t extend him if the price was much better. A 2 year $16 M with a club option for $9 M and a $2 M buyout would be a more reasonable deal given the risks he has going forward.

The chances that what I want to happen will actually happen aren’t likely given Melvin’s history, but I hope the general ideas I have will be the basis of what the Brewers do going forward. This offseason is going to be a very interesting one for the Brewers, and I can’t wait to see what Doug Melvin decides to do.