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.
Rotation
Yovani Gallardo
Ben Sheets
Manny Parra
Dana Eveland
Tim Dillard
Bullpen
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.
Lineup
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
Bench
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.
Summary
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.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.