The Sports Daily > The Brewers Bar
The “26th” man

When the Crew packs up in Maryvale and heads home to the Great White North, 25 players will be in the clubhouse on Opening Day, April 2nd. But, odds are, one lucky pitcher will get to don a Sounds uni for a few days, until taking a flight northward to join the Brewers as their 26th player to be on the roster. By Friday, April 6th, at the latest, That’s the date which is exactly five days before the Brewers’ first time when they will need to use their 5th starter…and when Claudio Vargas (or whomever the 5th starter will be) can no longer be used in relief. Which means it is also the day that Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin will need to resolve his outfield situation, as, if the last two years are any indication, Ned Yost and Mike Maddux will add a 12th pitcher..and need to say ‘goodbye’ to one of their extra outfielders. The choices ain’t pretty, either:

  1. Send Corey Hart to Nashville–but delay the prospect’s development and experience in the majors
  2. Send Brady Clark to Nashville–but likely lose him on waivers…and over $3.5 million
  3. Trade/Demote Gabe Gross–and lose a budding star as the result of Jenkins’ contract
  4. Trade Kevin Mench–losing the right-handed bat of the platoon tandem with Jenkins and making last July’s trade look more even
  5. Trade/cut Geoff Jenkins–and eat $7 million

The best short-term solution would be sending Hart back down, but skipper Ned Yost made it clear last August that he feels that Hart is likely ready to be an everyday, starting outfielder for the Crew; if Hall plays CF well during Cactus League play, Brady Clark is expendable…but would likely require the Crew to fork over at least $1 million to another team as salary offset. Gabe Gross likely has some value, but do you really want to give up on the perfect back-up OF–a lefty that hit all those right-handed pitchers last year to the tune of .294/.400/.508/.908? While he can’t hit lefties, he played 33 games in CF last season. Clearly, both Hart and Gross are, and should be, in the Brewers’ long-term plans; Mench might be, while Jenkins and Clark need some sort of miracle rebirth in ’07 to get a contract in ’08…but one of the guys will likely only be a Brewer for 3-4 days. David Hannes Copyright 2007