With spring training upon us, the Brewers lineup is starting to take shape for the 2019 season with some last minute additions:
- Former Padre Corey Spangenberg will serve as a utility middle-infielder
- Mike Moustakas will return, although reports are that the team wants him to play 2nd base, rather than his usual position at the hot corner
When I first heard that Moose was coming back, I assumed it meant Counsell & Co. would put Shaw at second again, like they did for the second half of the 2018 season. It’s interesting to hear that they’re planning to at least try Moustakas out at second base, and raises the question of what Spangenberg’s role will be in this new-look infield.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Shaw, Moustakas and Spangenberg end up platooning a bit at both positions throughout the season, depending on who’s healthy and who’s getting a day off that particular game, or what have you.
The other big piece that remains a big of a question mark is what Eric Thames’ role will be for the 2019 season. It seems like Thames has basically lost his position starting at first base (even against lefties) to All-Star Jesus Aguilar, so barring filling in on Aguilar’s off days, it’s going to again be hard for Thames to find places to make starts on anything like a consistent basis.
The team traded Domingo Santana, the best reserve outfielder they had, back in December, though they got former Brewer Mat Gamel’s little brother, also an outfielder, in exchange. Gamel is pretty green though and I’d be surprised if he spends much time in the bigs during the 2019 season. So that could be a role Thames fills, although he seems much less comfortable in the outfield as he does at first base.
I really like Thames as a clubhouse presence and think he’s a good, athletic player who is better than he gets credit for. My sense is that the lack of consistent starts is really what is keeping him from performing on a consistently high level. I think it’d be a shame to see him go, but I also don’t really see where he fits into this lineup other than as a pinch hitter, so that’ll be one of the more interesting storylines to watch during Spring Training for me.