Mailbag: Will Villanueva start?
Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers Brewers fans' questions
Why in the world is nobody talking about Carlos Villanueva making the starting rotation? If there was anybody that was a surprise on this team last year, it was this young guy. He's aggressive, which we know the coaches like, and he's got an OK arm. But it's really the use of his pitches and the mental aspect that makes him a pretty impressive pitcher. With Claudio Vargas struggling, and in my opinion, an average pitcher at best, how is Villanueva not battling for the final starting position?
-- Aaron K., Milwaukee
The Brewers are wary of rushing players -- especially pitchers -- to the Majors. They also like the prospect of having five starters with at least 72-plus Major League starts under their belt -- those 72 belong to Dave Bush, the most inexperienced of the group. Remember that Villanueva started last season down at Double-A Huntsville and has only pitched in 21 games above that level.
So, barring injury of course, Vargas will get the nod over Villanueva. Vargas is no old-timer at 28, and maybe he will prove a right-handed version of Doug Davis, who had bounced around several organizations before landing in Milwaukee and coming into his own.
It seems to me that Prince Fielder's nagging quad injury proves my point that he is out of shape. That picture of him doing sliding drills makes it look like he's a sub sandwich away from challenging David Wells for MLB's largest jersey size. Admit it, Fielder needs to drop 30 pounds immediately, otherwise he'll be the next John Kruk.
-- Mark K., Madison, Wis.
The team insists that's not true, and manager Ned Yost actually talked last season about trainers telling Prince to cut down on his cardio so he didn't wear out.
Will it work out having Francisco Cordero as the Brewers' closer and Derrick Turnbow as the setup man? If so, will they have the ability to keep Cordero for years to come or will he command too much money? I believe if Turnbow has a good year, the chances are poor that Cordero will come back after 2007 since Turnbow is signed for a few more years and he was originally the closer.
-- Lucas B., Milton, Wis.
Cordero is the closer and Turnbow knows it, but Turnbow reported to camp with the mindset that he is going to win the job back. If both have a great year, the Brewers will be facing a difficult and expensive decision on Cordero. But it's way too early to predict now how that will shake out.
What is going on with Tim Dillard? I haven't heard much about him this spring. Does he have a chance of making the big team or is he more likely to end up at Triple-A Nashville?
-- Bryan E., Saltillo, Miss.
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Dillard will end up at Triple-A. Despite being the organization's Pitcher of the Year in 2005, Dillard has flown a bit under the radar, but he is getting a chance to audition in his first big-league camp. That Triple-A rotation could be pretty good, with some mixture of Dillard, Villanueva, Yovani Gallardo, Ben Hendrickson, Zach Jackson and maybe Manny Parra at some point if he keeps pitching the way he has this spring.
I was looking on your Web site for news on Mark Rogers. Is he out of baseball due to injury?
-- Eric B., Portland, Maine
Rogers, who underwent a mechanical overhaul last season, had offseason surgery to repair an SLAP lesion in his throwing shoulder. Mike Jones went through the same thing a few years ago and said it can take up to 18 months to recover.
This spring, I noticed that the Brewers jerseys have a gold panel down the sides. Are these jerseys going to be used during the regular season? I think it looks sharp.
-- John K., Menasha, Wis.
Clubhouse boss Tony Migliaccio says the regular-season jerseys will be the same as in years past, except for a patch on the Friday retro jerseys commemorating the 25th anniversary of the World Series team. The new batting practice jerseys -- the ones players wear in Spring Training -- are popular with players because they are lighter and more breathable. They are also popular with the clubhouse guys because the letters and numbers are iron-on. Before, they had to be sent out to a seamstress.
What will happen to the Brewers' outfield situation if Laynce Nix is able to put together a great Spring Training? The outfield is crowded enough, but does that mean that Bill Hall could move to left field? The way I see it, if Nix is healthy and producing, he greatly improves the outfield defensively, while making the outfield logjam even worse.
-- Jon F., St. Cloud, Wis.
General manager Doug Melvin would agree with your last sentence, except he would change "even worse" to "even better." The Brewers have been so thin for so long that Melvin is thrilled to have a little depth to work with. If Nix continues having a great spring, will he have a legitimate beef if he is left off the Opening Day roster? Absolutely. But Melvin argues that good teams have to make those tough decisions.
Why is it that the Brewers hardly ever broadcast any of their exhibition games on the radio anymore? For those of us that are bored in the afternoons during the dog days of winter, we look forward to listening to the exhibition games every day.
-- Chris S.
The games not on radio or TV are always available via Brewers.com's webcast. If you missed the TV broadcast on Saturday, you can still get a preseason listen to new play-by-play man Brian Anderson.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.