Restoring the rosters: No. 27 – Milwaukee

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
Now that we have the obvious bottom three out of the way, I have a group of six teams without much separating them. I’ve decided to go with the Brewers first, figuring that their lack of pitching depth would cost the team in the end.
Yovani Gallardo
Ben Sheets
Manny Parra
Dana Eveland
Tim Dillard
Mike Adams
Mitch Stetter
Dennis Sarfate
Craig Breslow
Joe Thatcher
Ruddy Lugo
Jon Coutlangus
The Brewers have used an awful lot of high picks on big-time arms with very poor results. In fact, with Sheets temporarily out of the league, not one active pitcher drafted by the team has recorded 20 major league victories.
Dillard, the fifth starter here, is viewed as more of a reliever by the club, but he’s gong 10-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 21 starts in Triple-A this year. That’s good enough.
The bullpen is very weak, but Adams, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2001, might not be such a liability in the closer’s role. He has a 2.01 ERA in 89 1/3 innings for the Padres since the beginning of last year.
2B Rickie Weeks
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Gary Sheffield
CF Corey Hart
3B Mat Gamel
C Angel Salome
1B/OF Matt LaPorta
OF Tony Gwynn Jr.
INF Ronnie Belliard
INF Bill Hall
C Robinson Cancel
The Brewers do possess a better lineup than many of the teams ahead of them on the list. Catcher is the only real problem in the lineup, and it might be that Cancel is currently a better option than Salome, who remains unpolished defensively. Jonathan Lucroy, who is a level behind Salome in Double-A, might prove to be the superior player.
Besides the obvious top-level talent in Braun and Fielder, the Brewers have a lot of depth here. Gwynn can play center, with Hart in right, when the Brewers need to put their best defensive lineup on the field. Geoff Jenkins is still just 34 and could yet be a decent enough right fielder against right-handers. Mark Loretta is another utility option and a better one than Hall at the moment, though Hall can’t be completely written off yet. Top prospect Alcides Escobar is also available.
Some spectacular misses with early first-round picks really hold the Brewers back here. Mark Rogers, Mike Jones, J.M. Gold, Kyle Peterson were all big flops, and 2006 pick Jeremy Jeffress seems on his way to joining the group in part because of a drug habit. Of course, every team has its failures when it comes to the draft. The difference is that it seems to be the Brewers’ only method for acquiring talent. Not one of the 25 players listed above was signed out of Latin America. The Brewers are trying to make up ground there now, and Escobar, who was signed out of Venezuela in 2003, could be a star. There’s a long way to go, though.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.