If there’s a baseball player with worse luck than Mat Gamel, I have yet to find him.
The Brewers first baseman is set to miss the 2013 season after tearing his surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee for the second consecutive year, which brings up a thought-provoking question: Are his days in Milwaukee coming to an end?
Gamel, 27, has yet to reach his full potential as a major league ballplayer and is on the verge of following the dangerous path of Matt LaPorta – another former top Brewers prospect who failed to transfer his minor-league game to the next level. Gamel owns a career .304 batting average with 105 home runs and 503 RBI’s across seven minor league seasons. However, his major league stats tell a different story. In 106 games, he has produced an inexcusable .229 batting average and has 27 fewer hits than strikeouts.
To be fair, Gamel was never given a chance to be an everyday player until the departure of Prince Fielder in 2012. But when his opportunity arose, an unforseen ACL tear squashed it after only 21 games. The same goes for 2013 – another shot to prove his capabilities, another knee letdown.
Milwaukee will have a difficult decision on their hands, a decision that will be made easier if they re-sign free agent-to-be Corey Hart. If Hart returns in 2014, Gamel would either be waived or placed on the bench, occasionally filling in at first base and in the outfield. Hunter Morris would then become his main competition, which would make Gamel the underdog. The young first base prospect has the tools to be what Gamel and LaPorta never were; successful. Another scenario the Brewers may attempt is to dangle him as trade bait and see if any teams bite. There has to be at least one general manager who still has faith in him.
Gamel, who is making somewhere around $500,000 this season, will be arbitration eligible at the end of the year, but don’t be surprised if the Brewers refuse to offer him a contract. Although he will come at a very low cost, Doug Melvin may still not be willing to pay him anymore than they already have, since they have yet to get the bang for their buck (not to mention Morris will be even cheaper).
Mat Gamel’s career as a Milwaukee Brewer may be coming to an end, due to lack of production and a whole bunch of bad luck. His potential is still there, but I for one, am sick of waiting for it to show up. Hopefully with Hart stationed at first and Morris in the wings, I won’t have to bide my time much longer.