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Second Base: Rickie Weeks vs. Scooter Gennett
With the exception of an outstanding 2010, Rickie Weeks has always been more promise than performance in his MLB career. In peak form, his bat speed and ability to crush a fastball made him one of the most dangerous offensive second baseman in baseball.
Unfortunately, those times were few and far between. Weeks has played more than 120 games just twice in the last five years and is now 31 years old, when his body isn't going to get stronger and more durable.
Scooter Gennett took over as the starting second baseman when Weeks went down with a hamstring injury in August and hit .324/.356/.479 in 69 games. It was a small sample size and doesn't show the kind of hitter Gennett really is (slappy, uses all fields, low power), but it's opened his window for a starting job.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters, via MLB.com's Mike Bauman, in December that there should be an open competition based on what happened last season.
I just saw Rick, and he's doing really well physically. But to say that, 'Scooter, you're on the bench and Rickie is our everyday guy right now,' I don't think that's real fair to Scooter.
We may end up needing both of them; you don't know what's going to happen. And we've got to get Rick back to where he was.
That last line is telling, because the Brewers have a lot of money and time invested in Weeks. It's in their best interest to make sure he's playing when physically capable, or else they will be eating a significant portion of their 2014 payroll.
Gennett clearly has fans in the right places, though it's still not quite time to give up on Weeks. One more injury or another disappointing start should change that, but if given the choice, Weeks should be starting on Opening Day.
Prediction: Rickie Weeks
First Base: Juan Francisco vs. Mark Reynolds vs. Lyle Overbay
If all things are equal, the Brewers probably don't want Juan Francisco starting at first base in 2014. He hit just .221/.300/.433 in 89 games.
Overall, Milwaukee first baseman hit just .206/.259/.370 last year. You can see why the front office wanted to give Roenicke as many options as possible to choose from, though none of them are exactly going to invoke memories of Prince Fielder.
Mark Reynolds is a streaky hitter who slugged .651 last April; .386, .253, .098 in May, June and July; and then came back with .510 and .414 marks in August and September. He could get hot in spring training, convincing the Brewers he can handle the job.
Lyle Overbay had a .295 on-base percentage last season, so it will take something impressive this spring to get him a spot on the 25-man roster.
In a field with no good option, Reynolds might be the winner by default simply because of his ability to hit the ball really far when he does make contact.
I'd like to see Hunter Morris get a real chance to win a platoon spot, but he didn't even get a look last September when the team was out of the race and had nothing to play for, so odds are stacked against him.
Prediction: Mark Reynolds
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