A lot has been going on with the Crew in the last couple weeks, so I thought I'd put up a quick post.
First and foremost, the Brewers have been signing players at an unbelievable rate. I mentioned in a post I wrote in July that the team needed another lefty reliever, a 7th-inning guy, another outfield bat, and another starter to be competitive, and they achieved all of that and more this offseason. The Brewers now have over 50 players with invitations to camp, 32 of which are pitchers vying for 12 spots. On the one hand, it's probably good to have the insurance given what has happened the last two seasons, but at the same time, I wonder if it will prohibit the Brewers' coaching staff from evaluating everyone fairly and every pitcher getting a decent amount of work in. With the recent signing of Doug Davis, the rotation looks to have at least four guaranteed spots in Davis, Gallardo, December free-agent signing Randy Wolf, and Manny Parra and/or Dave Bush. The bullpen will have at the most 1 spot available. So that's like 20 pitchers competing for 2-3 spots. The Brewers have also signed veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds and utility man Joe Inglett to compete for the 4th outfield spot with Jody Gerut. I've always like Edmonds, and I'm a big advocate of having veterans on your bench that can contribute 2-3 games a week, rather than wasting younger prospects who probably could use the regular ABs in the minors, so I hope he makes the team. With that being said, the competition between McGehee and Gamel at 3rd should be interesting. It seems like McGehee is going to have to prove himself in camp to win the job, despite outplaying Gamel all season and having his knee cleaned up in the winter, and if Gamel doesn't win the starting job I don't see the point of keeping him on the bench. The other big spring training story to watch will be the battle for the backup catcher spot behind Gregg Zaun. There's a lot of talk of Jonathan Lucroy making the jump from AA, but again, if he's not going to start why waste his talent on the bench? Spring Training should be interesting to say the least.
Speaking of Spring Training, I've been asking various Brewers and baseball sources about the future of the Brewers in Arizona after their lease expires in 2012. The answers I've received seemed to indicate the Brewers staying in Maryvale was a sure thing, but an article posted today by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel basically says the Brewers are negotiating to stay, but it's far from certain. There's always a chance that a lucrative stadium deal may entice them to move to the Grapefruit League after 40+ years in the Cactus League. Erik and I would much rather see the Crew in Arizona on our eventual spring training trip and we hope they can work out a new deal to stay in suburban Phoenix.
The last major piece of offseason news was the announcement of 40th anniversary plans for the team. It is the franchise's 40th anniversary of the move from Seattle, and the team plans to celebrate with series of four Retro Weekends, each featuring former players as guests, uniforms reflective of each era, and a bobblehead depicting one of the greatest moments of each decade. The team will wear a 40th Anniversary patch (seen at top) on their uniform sleeve all season long. It is also the Brewers' 10th season at Miller Park, and they are celebrating that by unveiling a Bud Selig statue by the front gate. Before taking over as Commissioner in 1992, Selig was the owner of the Brewers, and was almost single-handedly responsible for the team moving to Milwaukee in 1970 and getting a new ballpark in 2001.
Pitchers and catchers report next week, and 54 days 'til Opening Day 2010!