No rumors, no trades, no free agents... Using only the moves the Brewers have already made and the players already in the system, I anticipate the team to be structured as follows (salary in parentheses):
SP1: Yovani Gallardo ($400K)
SP2: David Bush ($5M est.)
SP3: Jeff Suppan ($12.5M )
SP4: Manny Parra ($400K)
SP5: Seth McClung ($1.5M est.)
Closer: Carlos Villanueva ($400K) - Not the prototypical closer, but pitched key innings in 2008 and is fearless on the mound which is the mindset you need to suceed in the ninth inning.
Setup: Todd Coffey ($800K)/ Jorge Julio ($950K) - Both have closing experience but faltered for various reasons. Should be able to execute high pressure pitches for the Brewers down the stretch to preserve leads.
6th/7th innning: Eduardo Morlan ($400K)/David Riske ($4.25M) - Though he is the Brewers Rule 5 pick, management likes Morlan to slide into this role because he throws strikes and can bring it with a 93MPH fastball. Riske is looking to bounce back from an under performance/injury plagued 2008 season. Was able to pitch in key spots for the Royals before being acquired by the Brewers.
Lefties: Mitch Stetter ($400K)/ R.J. Swindle ($400K) - I see the Brewers carrying two lefties to give Macha more chances to play matchups and not worry about saving a lefty for later in the game. If both are limited to facing lefties, I see a lot of success and productive seasons from the two young lefties.
Spot Starter/ X-Factor: Chris Capuano ($500K-$3.7M) - It's good to see Chris bounce back from a second Tommy John surgery but just how effective is he going to be? I see Chris either making the team out of Spring Training as a middle reliever/spot starter, or going to Nashville to make a couple of starts before being brought up in May to fill that same role, it all depends on how far along he is.
As for the everday lineup, that seems to be set in stone without any surprises, here's the rundown:
1B: Prince Fielder ($7M est.)
2B: Rickie Weeks ($2M est.)
SS: J.J. Hardy ($5M est.)
3B: Bill Hall ($6.8M)
LF: Ryan Braun ($745K)
CF: Mike Cameron ($10M)
RF: Corey Hart ($3.5M est.)
C: Jason Kendall ($4.6M)
C: Mike Rivera ($400K) - Melvin and Ash have both said they feel comfortable with their catching tandem of Kendall and Rivera, here's to another year at Nashville for Vinny Rottino.
Util IF/LH PH: Mike Lamb ($400K) - Lamb can fill in at 1st and 3rd and may find himself in a platoon at third depending on how much Hall struggles with righties out of the gate. Though I see Hall getting the chance to prove he's still an everyday player.
Util OF/ Pinch-runner: Tony Gwynn Jr. ($400K) - I think this is finally going to be the year that TGJ stays on the big league club from opening day to October. His speed makes him a useful tool on the base paths late in a game and he can realistically play all three outfield positions should anyone need a day off.
LH PH/ Util OF: Trot Nixon ($400K) - I see Trot being Macha's first man off the bench in a pinch hit situation. Though he can play either corner outfield position, I don't see this happening unless it's an extreme emergency.
For those of you who have not been counting, that gives the Brewers an opening day payroll of $69.145M- $72.345M (Depending on how many incentives Capuano hits). For this blog's sake we'll just say an even $70M. This team would be competitive but I hardly see it as a contender unless Hall and Weeks live up to their potential, Capuano returns to 2006 form and we get big (healthy) years out of Gallardo and Parra. That's a lot of "ifs". Would Doug be excited about starting 2009 with this roster? Probably not, but he would be content.
The Brewers have not announced what their payroll "number" will be for 2009, but one would have to assume it's around $90M due to the increase in season ticket sales and increases in revenues from ticket/concession price increases. That gives the Brewers $20M to spend. Ideally, I would like to shore up the rotation. Names out there are Randy Johnson, Braden Looper, John Smoltz and Randy Wolf. I'd also like to throw Andy Pettitte out there. With a return to the Yankees looking less likely by the day, it would be a big pickup in that we would have a solid, veteran lefty that isn't quite collecting social security (Smoltz and Johnson).
Those of you that know me are aware of my love affair with Carlos Villanueva, and I honestly think he could thrive in either a starting role or closer's role (I will NOT accept him as a middle reliever. Middle reliever's are pitchers that don't have the ability to start or the balls to close, he's neither) I would like to get a more proven commodity in to close games. My top two choices are familiar names to anyone paying attention to free agency, Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman. It all depends on what Doug values more. If he believes closer is the more pressing need, I see him throwing big money at Fuentes and trying to get a bargain starter (Looper or Smoltz). If he sees a starter as the more pressing need, I see him throwing money at a higher profile pitcher like Johnson, Pettitte or Wolf (sidenote: I would HATE this signing, we already have one Suppan) and then trying to get the bargain in Hoffman.