Diving into the depths: Milwaukee Brewers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Zack Greinke
2. Yovani Gallardo
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
6. Manny Parra
7. Mark Rogers
8. Amaury Rivas
9. Josh Butler
10. Sam Narron
11. Cody Scarpetta

Depth is a major issue, but the Brewers have a very strong top three and a solid fourth starter. I’m skeptical that Narveson will last: he has the strikeout rate, but he struggles pitching from the stretch. Ideally, Rogers would stay healthy in Triple-A and secure the fifth spot in the rotation sometime around the All-Star break.

Bullpen
1. John Axford
2. Takashi Saito
3. Zach Braddock
4. Kameron Loe
5. LaTroy Hawkins
6. Manny Parra
7. Sean Green
8. Mike McClendon
9. Brandon Kintzler
10. Justin James
11. Mark DiFelice
12. Mitch Stetter
13. Roque Mercedes
14. Tim Dillard
15. Dan Merkinger
16. Zack Segovia
17. Pat Egan
18. Robert Hinton

The Brewers will be just fine in the pen. Parra was very good in his relief stints last season, and I like Kintzler as a sleeper to step into a setup role as the year goes on. I doubt Axford will be quite so good again in the closer’s role, but he should be able to hold on to his job.

Catcher
1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Wil Nieves
3. George Kottaras
4. Mike Rivera
5. Shawn Riggans

First base
1. Prince Fielder
2. Casey McGehee
3. Mat Gamel

Second base
1. Rickie Weeks
2. Craig Counsell
3. Edwin Maysonet
4. Eric Farris
5. Erick Almonte

Third base
1. Casey McGehee
2. Mat Gamel
3. Craig Counsell
4. Erick Almonte
5. Taylor Green

Shortstop
1. Yuniesky Betancourt
2. Craig Counsell
3. Luis Cruz
4. Edwin Maysonet

Even though Weeks has improved to the point at which he’s just about average at second base, the Brewers are going to sport one of the game’s weakest infield defenses after swapping out Alcides Escobar and bringing in Betancourt. At least the group should be good for 90 homers or so.

Left field
1. Ryan Braun
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Jeremy Reed
5. Brendan Katin

Center field
1. Carlos Gomez
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Jeremy Reed
4. Logan Schafer
5. Caleb Gindl

Right field
1. Corey Hart
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Brendan Katin
5. Caleb Gindl

The Brewers need Gomez’s glove in center, so he figures to be given every opportunity to win the everyday job. I like Dickerson, but he’s inconsistent and injury-prone and he’s probably best utilized getting three starts a week as a fourth outfielder.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.