Tag:Mat gamel
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm
 

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.

Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston

Probable lineup
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Probable rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

Back-end bullpen
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez

Important bench players

OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad

Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.

Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.

Pessimistic outlook
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Brewers deal McGehee to Pirates



By Matt Snyder


On the day they learned Aramis Ramirez would be signing with them, the Brewers have now traded former third baseman Casey McGehee. He is headed to Pittsburgh in exchange for relief pitcher Jose Veras, the Pirates announced Monday night.

McGehee was likely to shift across the diamond and play first base, upon the arrival of Ramirez. Instead, he's out the door and headed elsewhere, and the Brewers will likely give Mat Gamel a full-time look to see if he sticks. He's yet to get an extended chance at the big-league level.

Brewers' offseason
Gamel, 26, hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers, 96 RBI and 90 runs in 128 Triple-A games last season. Of course, he's garnered 194 plate appearances over the past four major-league seasons and owns an MLB triple-slash line of .222/.309/.374. It could be that he's one of those "Quadruple-A players," who is really good in Triple-A but can't transition to the bigs, that he just needs time to develop in the bigs or that he's simply going to be one of those late bloomers (like Alex Gordon, though Gordon was much more heavily hyped in his younger years). We'll find out this season, unless the Brewers are able to afford Carlos Pena, which may be possible -- oh, and they're 100 percent out on Prince Fielder.

McGehee, 29, was a great find for the Brewers in 2009 and he had another good offensive year in 2010, but badly faltered last season. He hit just .223 with 13 homers and a brutal .280 on-base percentage. Still, if he rebounds to his 23-homer, 104-RBI form of 2010, this has a chance of helping the Pirates. He provides insurance in case Pedro Alvarez flops at third base again and also gives flexibility at first base, where the Pirates can use Garrett Jones, or play McGehee at first and use Jones in the outfield on occasion.

Veras, 31, is a 6-foot-6 right-hander. He had a 3.80 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 71 innings last season. He struck out 79 hitters, which is a great rate. The Brewers needed an arm in the bullpen after having lost both LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito in free agency.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:35 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Last offseason the Brewers made two huge moves that powered them to a National League Central title -- trading for Zack Greinke from the Royals and Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays. One look at roster of players the Brewers have drafted and signed out of Latin America tell you exactly why the Brewers had to reach outside the organization for starting pitching. While the team has consistently developed position players, its track record with pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- is not so good. So, check out one of the best lineups in this exercise, and worst pitching staffs.

Lineup

1. Corey Hart, RF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Prince Fielder, 1B
4. Ryan Braun, LF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Lorenzo Cain, CF
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Starting Rotation

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Manny Parra
3. Dana Eveland
4. Mark Rogers
5. Tim Dillard

Bullpen

Closer - Mike Adams
Set up - Craig Breslow, Jeremy Jeffress, Zach Braddock, Tom Wilhelmsen, Michael Fiers, Mike McClendon

Notable Bench Players

The bench actually has a nice mixture of bats -- Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, along with two outstanding defensive replacements in Alcides Escobar in the infield and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the outfield. There's also a super-utility guy in Bill Hall.

What's Good?

The lineup is ridiculous. It's like the team's lineup from this year, but better. Lawrie at third base adds serious pop, while Hardy is an upgrade at shortstop (and really, who isn't an upgrade from Yuniesky Betancourt?) The core of the lineup is about the same, and shows the team knows how to spot bats that will play in the big leagues. This lineup is certainly one a manager would love to pencil in every, single day.

What's Not?

That pitching staff is ridiculous -- and not in a good way. Yovani Gallardo is a really good pitcher, but the rest ... woof. The fourth starter (Rogers) has 10 innings in the big leagues. The back of the bullpen with Adams, Breslow and Jeffress, well, it's better than the rest of the bullpen. Really, this is all a mess. There's no way this team could compete with this pitching staff. Just brutal.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, the pitching staff ensures this team wouldn't win the division or even sniff the playoffs. The staff is so bad, that even with all the runs they put up, there's likely no way this team wins 70 games. The Brewers tried to slug their way to titles in the past and it was proven it doesn't work. In the end, it's why the Brewers had to gut their minor league system to get Greinke, and trade away an impact bat to get Marcum -- pitching is vital to the success of a baseball team and this hypothetic team has next to none.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:13 pm
 

Melvin 'might' talk to Boras on Fielder

Fielder

By Evan Brunell


While Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he "might" meet with superagent Scott Boras and discuss parameters around Prince Fielder, he acknowledged that there was pretty much no way the first baseman would be back in town.

“Things have changed since two years ago," Melvin told Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We had an opportunity (to sign Fielder) and couldn’t do it. We gave money to other players who were going to be free agents. Markets can change from year to year, too.

“It takes time to see how the market develops. You never know how it’s going to play out. You don’t get a lot of information from agents at this point. They’ll listen but you don’t get a lot of direction from them.”

The Brewers offered Fielder a five-year, $100 million contract in spring of 2010, but never heard back from Fielder or his agents. Since then, there has been zero dialogue. In the meantime, the Brewers' finances changed, as it inked second baseman Rickie Weeks, right fielder Corey Hart and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to long-term deals. They also extended left fielder Ryan Braun for essentially the same amount of money offered to Fielder -- five years and $105 million, slated to kick in for the 2015 season. In addition, they traded for Zack Greinke, who makes good money and is a free agent after next season. Then of course, there are arbitration cased to consider. The takeaway? The money isn't there for Fielder anymore.

“It’s simple math,” said Melvin of a payroll that would inch over $70 million with half the roster to complete. The Brewers had a payroll around $95 million this past season, where they aim to remain. No Fielder, and more importantly, no big-ticket free agent. With that little flexibility, it's difficult to comprehend how Milwaukee could take on Jose Reyes without trading away another player. 

Melvin said he doesn't have any plans to tender an offer for Fielder, and if there was any offer, it would come after Fielder and Boras tested the market to know exactly what type of contract would work for Milwaukee. If Fielder does leave, and it's more like when, Melvin tabs minor-league first baseman Mat Gamel as someone who has been getting internal support to replace Fielder at first. The 26-year-old failed as a third baseman, necessitating the shift. He's had small stints with the Brewers the last four seasons, getting 61 of 85 games in 2009, when he hit .242/.338/.422.

He appears to be ready for prime time after slashing .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers in Triple-A after a successful move to first in expectation of losing Fielder. It's possible, if not likely, the club will bring in a solid veteran to complement Gamel and, if needed, step in to replace him. But Milwaukee don't need Fielder because it already has his replacement.

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Posted on: June 28, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 10:07 am
 

Pepper: Royals going to six-man rotation



BASEBALL TODAY: Will the Boston-Philly series live up to expectations with Josh Beckett facing Cliff Lee in the first of a three-game set? Will filing for bankruptcy protection save the Dodgers? C. Trent Rosencrans joins Lauren Shehadi to break it all down. Click on the video above to watch.

By Matt Snyder

TREND-SETTERS: The White Sox made news earlier this season when they shifted to a six-man rotation, as Philip Humber has been throwing far too well to remove from the rotation, and the other five members are all certainly good enough to merit remaining in the rotation. The Giants have faced questions on doing so when everyone is completely healthy, considering Ryan Vogelsong's ascent, but manager Bruce Bochy remains steadfast that they won't be going to six. The Royals, however, are ready to jump aboard with the White Sox plan (Kansas City Star). Their rotation is a bit less formidable than the White Sox or Giants, but the move comes with good, decent reasons. Rookie Danny Duffy is making progress in his development, so the Royals don't want to send him back down to the farm. Kyle Davies and his 7.46 ERA are returning from injury, while Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino are out of options. Also, Jeff Francis has accrued enough service time in the bigs that he could reject an assignment to the minors and become a free agent. So if the Royals want to keep everyone, they have to go to six. Of course, they could move someone to the bullpen, but they don't want to do that. Instead they'll just carry less position players, which isn't a horrible thing in the AL, I guess. Still, seems a bit radical to force six into a rotation with so much mediocrity.

POT, MEET KETTLE? I personally stay out of the business where you label entire fan bases as more stupid, obnoxious, smart, respectful, etc. The reason is very simple: Every single fan base has morons. Every single fan base has intelligent fans. Every fan base has jerks, and every fan base has kind and respectful fans. I immediately disregard any comment that contains "all (insert team) fans are (insert insult)." This doesn't seem to be the majority opinion, however, as it's fun for fans to mock other fan bases and label them. With that in mind, I thought it was funny that a Philadelphia writer thought Boston fans have become obnoxious (Boston Herald's "Behind Enemy Lines" feature). Because, you know, tons of opposing fans point to Philly fans as obnoxious themselves. Honestly, it's too bad the Phillies and Red Sox are in different leagues. That could be a pretty sweet rivalry on many levels. I guess we'll have to settle for the World Series this year? Maybe?

TRIPLE-DOUBLE: In the Cubs' 7-3 win over the Rockies, three players hit two home runs each -- Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena for the Cubs and Carlos Gonzalez for the Rockies. No, this wasn't a game played in Coors Field, but the wind blowing out at Wrigley can make things quite hitter-friendly. It was the first time this had happened since 2006 and only the 13th time it happened since 2000. (Baseball-Reference blog)

MAYBE THIS TIME: Mat Gamel of the Brewers was once touted as the next big power bat to come through Milwaukee's system, but things stalled a bit. In 2009, he was given 148 plate appearances for the Brewers and hit just .242 with 54 strikeouts. Last season he was pretty bad when given a chance, though he was only granted 17 plate appearances. Still, he's only 25 and is tearing up Triple-A so far in 2011. He's hitting .321 with 18 homers, 58 RBI, 54 runs, 21 doubles and a .957 OPS. He's especially picked up the pace in June, as he's hit 10 of his home runs this month. With six games in AL parks coming this week, the Brewers have summoned him (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) and will likely use him as a DH or first baseman -- with Prince Fielder then serving as DH. If Gamel hits well, it will be interesting to see what the Brewers do moving forward. They're going to be in contention, but there's really no good defensive place for Gamel. And it's entirely possible he's the replacement at first for Fielder, if he walks as expected, next season.

SAVING J.J.: Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz was unavailable both Saturday and Sunday, but he's not injured. Instead, manager Kirk Gibson noted he's trying to "develop a bullpen" and also make sure Putz is still in tip-top shape come August and September. Putz picked up saves on three straight days prior to being unavailable, so it made perfect sense. (MLB.com)

DAVEY'S FIRST ROAD TRIP: Nationals new manager -- and the last one for 2011, presumably -- Davey Johnson flew with his ballclub from Chicago to Los Angeles and made a point to have an individual conversation with every player on the flight. One area he wants to improve immediately is the offense. “I definitely think this club has been an underachiever offensively. I don’t like to give up outs. I’ll bunt when I have to. I’ll hit and run when I feel like it. I think this club hasn’t quite come into it’s own. It doesn’t really know how good an offensive club it can be. It definitely has a chance to be a good one.” (Washington Times) What's funny is that Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman (and maybe Ian Desmond) are due to get hot, so that should improve the offense naturally. And Johnson will get some of the credit. Which is part of the give-and-take, of course. If the team starts playing worse, he'll get the blame, too.

JONNY COOL: Jonny Gomes of the Reds broke into the bigs for the Rays. He returned to Tropicana Field Monday night in interleague play, and his former teammates had nothing bad to say about him. In fact, they really like him. Andy Sonnanstine, B.J. Upton and James Shields in particular had high praise for Gomes as a teammate (TBO.com).

FALLACIOUS CLAIM: Josh Hamilton has been awful during the day, and he actually got an optometrist to agree with his assertion that the cause of this was the fact that Hamilton has blue eyes. It sounds ridiculous, and Fangraphs.com illustrates that it is, based upon historical data of blue-eyed players hitting during the day vs. their numbers at night. Best example: Mark Grace and his deep-blue eyes. He played tons of day games for the Cubs and was great throughout his career in day games.

"NEANDERTHALS: The legalization of gay marriage in New York has been a big source of conversation, apparently, in the Mets' clubhouse. Color commentator and formet Met Ron Darling has been particularly outspoken in favor of the passage, though many of the current players are reluctant to publicly speak about the issue -- and it's hard to blame them, as any answer would likely anger at least one fan. An interesting quote from an unnamed player, courtesy of the New York Daily News, is that most players believe professional sports locker rooms aren't ready to fully accept an openly gay teammate because "most of us are still Neanderthals."

DUSTY BOBBLEHEAD: I'm not as big a fan of bobbleheads as many fans, but the Dusty Baker one the Reds are giving away this coming Saturday is pretty cool, simply because it has a bin of toothpicks on it. We'll leave you with a video of the Reds players promoting the giveaway with glasses and the signature toothpick in the video below ...



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Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 12:19 pm
 

Brewers could call up Gamel for interleague

GamelBy Evan Brunell

The Brewers are considering recalling prospect Mat Gamel once interleague play begins, MLB.com reports.

The 25-year-old has seen his star dim in recent years, but he's still considered to be Prince Fielder's heir apparent at first base, shifting from the hot corner to first to start the season and getting adjusted to his new position down in Triple-A. He's hitting .303/.373/.521 with 11 home runs in 260 plate appearances, very similar to numbers he threw up last season at the same level, albeit in just 82 games.

Gamel could make his 2011 debut this upcoming weekend when the Brewers head to Fenway Park for the annual stretch of interleague play. Gamel's presence would allow manager Ron Roenicke to shuffle Prince Fielder into the DH spot along with Ryan Braun and even Rickie Weeks, keeping their bats in the lineup while giving them, in effect, a half-day. Gamel would be able to fill in at first base in that situation, with Mark Kotsay handling outfield duties.

“We talked about it a week ago, and we talked about it about 10 minutes ago,” Roenicke said on Sunday of promoting Gamel. “So, yes, we’ve talked about it. He’s playing really well at first base, defensively.  And offensively, he’s done a nice job. He’s been a little inconsistent, but he can swing. You guys have seen him.”

Gamel already has major-league experience, splitting 75 games over the last three seasons with 61 coming in 2009. Overall, he's hit .241/.335/.414, which are poor numbers, but Gamel hasn't really had a chance to settle down in the bigs and gain consistent playing time.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 22, 2011 6:36 pm
 

Gamel could be Brewers' backup plan at first

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mat GamelThe Brewers may have found their replacement for Prince Fielder after the season, and he's not coming from outside.

Former highly-touted third base prospect Mat Gamel was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday to learn how to play first base. With Casey McGehee seemingly entrenched at third for the Brewers and Gamel struggling defensively, it seems like a natural fit. Or at least a pretty good contingency plan. Fielder is a free agent after this season and not many expect him to return to Milwaukee.

Gamel has suffered from injuries, but also found his way to the majors blocked by McGehee, Corey Hart in right and Ryan Braun in left. Before the 2009 season, Baseball America ranked him the No. 34 prospect in all of baseball. In the minors, he's certainly hit, putting up a .302/.376.489 line in six seasons, along with 77 home runs.

Last season he played at three levels, hitting .309/.387/.511 with 13 homers in 82 games at Nashville. 

"I told Mat that playing first base is not like sticking a Little Leaguer in right," general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Michael Hunt. "It's a tough position. A lot goes into it."

Melvin also said the team doesn't want Gamel playing right field for the Sounds. There has been speculation that the team could move Hart to first and Gamel replace him in right.

Gamel, serving mostly as a designated hitter this spring, hit .375/.444/.375 with three hits in eight at-bats this spring. A rib cage injury has limited his at-bats this spring.

In 167 career big league plate appearances, Gamel's hit .241/.335/.414 with five homers and 21 RBI. The bulk of his big league experience, 61 of 75 games, came in 2009. He's also played left field and served as the team's designated hitter and a pinch hitter. He played in 12 games last season.

The team is leaning toward keeping Erick Almonte or Luis Cruz to fill the backup infielder spot, Hunt writes.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com