In 2005 I had just picked up a new position as an instructor, and hadn't even met the woman who I now call my wife. That was two vehicles, one paygrade, two cats, roughly 30 or so viewing of The Big Lebowski, and one Major League Baseball postseason appearance ago.
Of course this brings me to the 2005 Milwaukee Brewers. A team that was coming off a 94-loss season, and a dead last finish in the division. That's right, even the Pirates finished better than we did. After the 2004 season, even the Brewers had a five-year plan in place. And part of this plan was a young kid from southern California named Ryan Braun.
2005 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH313 Ryan Braun
I don't think a whole lot needs to be said about "Brauny". 2007 NL Rookie of the Year. 2008 NL All-Star. Back in 2005, he was only playing rookie and single-A ball for the Brewers, but is now a vital part of the Brewers' five-year plan, to say the least.
Kenny Durost - Kenny had a great 2008. Playing for the KANSAS CITY T-BONES. What? Ya, his dreams of making it big in the big leagues never really panned out. That's not to say they still couldn't come to fruition, but after going 1-9 in 2005 for Brewers A-club Brevard County, his contract was purchases by the Oakland A's, and he did 2 years for them in Kane County and Stockton (former Brewers 'A' club). In 2007 he had to fend for himself, playing for the Schaumberg Flyers of the Northern League, going 3-1 over 7 starts. Finally, he was sent over to the T-Bones for a couple other guys who also have to work at Home Depot during the offseason.
Dana Eveland - Eveland has had a slightly better past few years. After having a great season in 2005 going 10-4 for AA Huntsville, he was optioned to AAA Nashville for the 2006 season. He was acquired by the D-backs and played some more AAA ball for them, but spent most of 2007 on the disabled list. Last year he was sent to Oakland as part of the trade sending Dan Haren to Arizona. He went 9-9 for Oakland last year, and is going to play a vital role in their rotation for 2009. His much needed success should help the A's content for a division title this year.
Hernan Iribarren - Hernan has played for every level of the Brewers' organization - from rookie ball all the way up to Milwaukee. His extended stay in the Brewers system reflects two things. He has the stuff, just not enough to keep him up. Secondly, he's at a roadblock with the Brewers current roster. An infielder by trade, he is currently roadblocked by Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy. Hardy isn't going anywhere for a while, but Rickie could be going somewhere should he have the season he's anticipated to have. Iribarren will again be a late-season call up for the extended roster, and will be the first call up should something happen to either Hardy or Weeks.
Vinny Rottino - If you've been reading my blog at all, you've read this great Wisconsin native's story as well, so I won't repeat myself too much. He's a tough match for the 40-man roster, again because of roadblocks, but should once again enjoy a fruitfull year in AAA Nashville, after enjoying himself playing for Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Mark Rogers - Rogers was the Brewers first pick for the 2004 draft, an honor that would be bestowed on Ryan Braun a year later. So why haven't you heard of this guy? First there was this bit about an entire mechanical overhaul of his pitching. Then it was a season and a half missed due to shoulder surgery and recovery. In 2006, after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, he would sit the bench and the same in 2007. 2008 saw him under the knife again to remove scar tissue. Now, in spring training 2009, he has pitched for the first time since 2006, will try to get back to prospect form. Current Brewers starting pitcher Manny Parra traveled nearly the exact same road as Rogers, so he's confident that he's got it in him.
Kennard Bibbs - Bibbs was drafted by the Brewers in 2002, making his way up to AA Huntsville by 2006, where he'd find a nice home. The guy has amazing speed, reminding one of Juan Pierre as a center fielder who can steal 50 bases for you. He played AAA ball in 2006, but had a knee injury followed by off-season surgery, which would drop him from the Brewers system. He missed all of 2007, and signed last year to a deal with the Sioux Falls Canaries of the American Association. No news yet for him in 2009.
Manny Parra - Not a whole lot to say about Manny. He is the man. After getting bitch slapped by Prince Fielder last summer in the dugout, he'll be back to kick some ass and take some names. He's my favorite hurler on the Brewers roster, and I sure hope he has another successful campaign in 2009. Also, he was the first player to send me back a TTM autograph. Hells ya.
Nelson Cruz - Cruz finally has a starting roster spot in the big leagues. On April 6th, he will be playing right field on opening day for the Texas Rangers. Milwaukee had him for a while as a farm hand, then traded him along w/ Carlos Lee in 2006 to bring Laynce Nix (not a Brewer), Kevin Mench (not a Brewers) and Francisco "CoCo" Cordero (money grubbing closer for the Reds who left Milwaukee for $4 million more than we offered him, that is $5,000 for every run his team gave up last year. Sucker.)This spring he (Nelson Cruz) is playing for the Dominican Roiders...sorry, Dominican Republic alongside A-Rod in the World Baseball Classic. This is one of the few guys who actually made it (though not in our system, a rarity for the Brewers, who tend to hold onto their best prospects, ala Matt LaPorta).
I'll finish up with two of the current Brewers starters, 2B Rickie "can't play defense" Weeks and SS J.J. "my wife would leave me for him" Hardy. I'm serious about the Hardy thing, I think he's on my wife's list, if you know what I mean. At least her heart's in the right place. Anyways, back to baseball. Hardy is going to have another awesome season, and Weeks will injure his knee in April so the Brewers can finally bring up some real defensive talent, and a leadoff hitter who thinks that .234 should be his body fat percentage, not his batting average. That is EXACTLY what is going to happen. Knock on wood.