Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Brewers' Surplus of Pitching Candidates

Again, by Bill Batterman~

After a busy off-season that saw closer Dan Kolb and setup man Luis Vizcaino depart in high-profile trades, the Brewers enter Spring Training with an abundance of pitchers competing for a limited number of spots on the club's Opening Day roster. In addition to past track record and performance during the Cactus League season, General Manager Doug Melvin and the rest of Milwaukee's front office will need to take into consideration each player's option status.

From's Frequently Asked Questions:

Generally, after 3 pro seasons, a player must be protected on a club?s 40-man roster or he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Once a player is added to a club?s 40-man roster, the club then [has] 3 available option years during which they can place him on "optional assignment" to a minor league club. A player can be sent up and down as many times as the club so chooses within those three seasons. Once a player is "out of options", he must clear "waivers" in order to be sent down again.

The Brewers have a number of players whose option status may impact their placement at the conclusion of Spring Training. The following table lists each pitcher in Milwaukee's camp along with their 2005 age, 40-man roster status (on the 40-man or non-roster invitee), and number of remaining options (if on the 40-man roster).

Player Age 40-man Options
Mike Adams 27 40-man 2
Rigo Beltran 35 NRI --
Jeff Bennett 25 40-man 3
Ricky Bottalico 36 40-man 0
Jose Capellan 24 40-man 2
Chris Capuano 27 40-man 2
Doug Davis 29 40-man 0
Jorge De La Rosa 24 40-man 0
Ben Diggins 26 40-man 1
Gary Glover 28 40-man 0
Rick Helling 34 NRI --
Ben Hendrickson 24 40-man 2
Jeff Housman 24 40-man 3
Mike Jones 22 40-man 3
Brooks Kieschnick 33 40-man 0
Justin Lehr 28 40-man 2
Sam Narron 24 40-man 2
Wes Obermueller 28 40-man 2
Luis Pena 22 40-man 3
Tommy Phelps 31 NRI --
Andy Pratt 26 40-man 0
Chris Saenz 23 NRI --
Julio Santana 32 NRI --
Victor Santos 28 40-man 0
Dennis Sarfate 24 40-man 2
Ben Sheets 27 40-man 2
Derrick Turnbow 27 40-man 0
Matt Wise 29 40-man 0

If the Brewers choose not to add them to the Opening Day 25-man roster, the following pitchers will be exposed to waivers and the club will risk losing them.

Doug Davis
Jorge De La Rosa
Gary Glover
Brooks Kieschnick
Andy Pratt
Victor Santos
Derrick Turnbow
Matt Wise

Of that group, only Davis is assured of a spot on the Opening Day staff while Santos and Kieschnick appear to be early favorites. The Brewers will face tough decisions with the rest of their out-of-options hurlers and it is likely that Melvin will attempt to reduce the surplus by dealing a few of those on the outside looking in (as he did a year ago with right-hander Leo Estrella and left-hander Wayne Franklin). Failing that, several pitchers will likely suffer the same fate as Mike Crudale, released and looking to latch on with another team.

In any case, it will be a competitive month on the mounds of Maryvale's baseball complex. Excluding Mike Jones and Chris Saenz, each of whom is expected to be out for the season with an injury, 26 pitchers will battle it out for only twelve or thirteen spots on the flight to Pittsburgh.


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