Early on Friday, Brewers' GM Doug Melvin announced that Gabe Gross will be on the Crew's Opening Day 25-man...which means 6 OF's, 2 C's, 5 IF's, 5 SP's, 1 closer...so 6 middle relievers are possible. Matt Wise, Derrick Turnbow, and Jose Capellan still seem to be locks, as does lefty Brian Shouse. Still competing for the last 1-2 spots are Chris Spurling (picked up off waivers from Detroit last year), Grant Balfour (most recently within the Reds' organization), Carlos Villanueva, Zach Jackson...and Greg Aquino, acquired in the trade with the Dbacks over the winter.
The case for keeping Greg Aquino is solid:
1. He has 3 MLB seasons under his belt, including 115 IP in 111 games, or just over 1 IP/appearance;
2. He's had 111 career K's--almost 1/IP; and he improved in this area last year--his '06 numbers were 51 K's over 48.33 IP;
3. His 4.47 ERA mark was not spectacular, but was an improvement over his '05 ERA of 7.76;
4. He's useful against lefties--he had a 7.50 K/9 vs. lefties last year...better than Wise (5.12), Capellan (5.06), and even the lefty Shouse (7.45 with the Brewers)...but not as dominating as Turnbow (10.29);
5. He's done well in Cactus League so far--7 K's in 8.33 IP...both tops among relievers on the team (Zach Jackson has more IP, but also has a start; several others also have 7 K's).
With 8 remaining exhibition games before opening day, Ned Yost and Mike Maddux will schedule all the remaining contenders for the last couple of spots at least three more times...these games, while meaningless to the fans, will determine which players make it to Cream City and which ones wind up in the Music City.