Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brewers Shape Starting Rotation as Sheets Signs With Oakland

With pitchers and catchers on the verge of reporting, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to have set their starting rotation.

Or have they?

Late last week, the Brewers finalized a one-year deal (with an option) for one-time Brewer and former Arizona Diamondback Doug Davis. That came after the earlier signing of Randy Wolf. They're both left-handed in a heavily right-handed National League Central, but Davis has been better in his career against righties, and he knows how to pitch. He throws a lot, but he doesn't overstrain his arm, and he isn't afraid to walk guys in the right situations. There aren't a lot of guys who have the patience and savvy to consistently throw this way, but Davis (known as "Sharpie" -- at least among Brewer fans -- for his one-time fake-looking goatee) gets away with walking a hitter roughly every two innings. He's a quality-start machine, which bodes well given this team's offensive potential.

To add to that, Milwaukee has re-signed Dave Bush on a one-year deal, so it appears he will be in the rotation. If he is fully recovered from the arm problems that derailed what could have been a career year in 2009, Bush could be a huge factor.

(Yes, his overall numbers pre-injury were still a bit mediocre. But this is Dave Bush we're talking about!)

Line them up, and you have a rotation for 2010 that looks light years ahead of the one Milwaukee used in 2009.

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Randy Wolf
3. Doug Davis
4. Dave Bush
5. Manny Parra/Jeff Suppan/Chris Narveson/Mark Mulder


Mark Mulder?

Yes, the same Mulder you remember from Oakland and St. Louis in the past. Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson was Mulder's mentor in Oakland, and the veteran left-hander is at least considering Milwaukee as the place he goes to for his baseball comeback. Shoulder problems derailed him, but obviously he's had success with Peterson before.

IF Mulder signs (huge "if" at this point), the Brewers sport the potential for four lefties in their rotation. They also get the ability to spot-start Parra, who struggled last year but has a great arm and a ton of potential. That takes the strain off his young arm, and it also takes the strain off Mulder as he tries to get back in shape. It could be an ideal situation, at least early in the year.

The club is high on Narveson, and he'll get a chance to win a job in spring training. But who is the odd man out?

Right now, it appears Suppan could get his walking papers. He's destined for the bullpen, but can he legitimately hold down a job there, or will he force the Brewers to eat the last year of his bloated contract? He's been generally terrible in Milwaukee, unable to consistently get people out and prone to some huge innings at really bad times (not that there's a good time to give up a big inning).

The best news Milwaukee got Tuesday? Ben Sheets signed with Oakland. The Cubs were in the running for the former Brewer, which would have meant a season of Sheets haunting the Crew, and no one needed to see that.

Instead, the Brewers will maybe see Sheets in spring training, and that's it.

After the way Milwaukee contractually jerked Sheets around while catering to the far inferior Suppan, fans should count their blessings that Sheets left the NL Central.

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