Season in Preview
A lot can change by Opening Day, but as 2007 becomes 2008, this is who is projected to take the field for the Brewers:
Wherever Braun plays, he could be an MVP candidate if he puts up similar numbers to last year's (34 home runs in just 113 games). So could first baseman Prince Fielder, who finished third in MVP balloting in 2007 and will not turn 24 until May.Braun and Fielder were obviously off-limits, but Melvin was also steadfast this winter in refusing to part with his other young position players including pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva, outfielder Corey Hart, shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Rickie Weeks. That decision leaves the Brewers poised to be contenders for 2008 and a few years beyond. Grading on a curve: There is still work to be done, and the way in which Melvin fills the void left by Jenkins could play a role in the success of the '08 team. On one hand, if they leave Braun at third base they risk the inconsistent defense that forced manager Ned Yost to make defensive switches late in games. On the other hand, what if Braun moves to left field and it affects his offense, in the same way Bill Hall was affected last season? It's a difficult decision, but one that has to be made. Give Melvin credit for making some risky bullpen moves that could offer big payouts, and coming up with big bucks to land Gagne. We'll call it a 6 out of 10 for now. Arrivals: Cs Munson and Jason Kendall, RHPs Gagne, Mota, Riske and Torres, LHP Choate Departures: C Damian Miller, IFs Tony Graffanino and Corey Koskie, OFs Jenkins, Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, RHPs Cordero, Linebrink and Matt Wise, LHP King The Road Ahead: At some point, you figure that teams will begin asking Milwaukee about its surplus of starting pitching. The team has as many as five viable starters for two spots behind Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan and Yovani Gallardo, who have to be considered locks for the rotation. Some of the remaining chips could be used to fill the third base/left field opening. With a crowded bullpen, the Brewers are poised to have a heated competition for the 11 or 12 roster spots available to pitchers in Spring Training.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less