Churning the Rumor Mill
For the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers, the ‘injury bug’ is an understatement. It’s more like something out of a science fiction movie that will stop at nothing to destroy everything you love. No team can avoid injuries, but it would appear that the Brewers have a target on their back.
Whenever injuries rear their heads on a team, the obvious next step is to talk about their replacements. The fight must carry on, after all. This season has shown that Milwaukee is struggling with depth in numerous positions, or if not depth per se, then consistent help in the replacement department. Patchworks and stop-gaps are doing their best to wright the ship, but something must be done in the long-term to get this team back to its winning ways.
So begins our descent into the rumor mill.
There are rumors swirling everywhere about who or what the Brewers should do to replace the walking wounded amongst their ranks, and for the most part I’m willing to take them at their word. I will not be diving into who the Brewers should give up for the following candidates, or what it would cost to bring them to the Brew City. We are only looking at potential candidates to fill holes on the roster – this is a no-hassle sales pitch.
Obviously Mat Gamel will spend the rest of 2012 recovering from his injury, an unfortunate turn of events for the 26 year-old first baseman, who was having a good first year in the major leagues. While we all hope for a speedy and easy recovery for Mat, attention must be made to the hole he makes on the lineup.
I want to say up front that I still believe the best course of action would be to try and move Corey Hart into the position, thus giving our platooned Outfield a chance to have more regular playing time. While there is discussion about in the clubhouse, there are still candidates out there to pick up:
Lee enjoyed his most productive years with the Chicago Cubs, where he was a staple power hitter and every day first baseman. He has lost a bit of his punch lately, but enjoyed a nice resurgence at the end of last year with the Pirates where he hit .337 with seven homers in only 28 games. Before that he spent the majority of the season in Baltimore, where he put a respectable .246 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in. He is currently unsigned but he is working out and sources around the league say that he is in good shape and very much on Milwaukee’s radar. He is, however, 35 years old. If he can keep up his numbers he would be a great addition to the club at any age.
Milwaukee may be looking to take on a bit of a fixer-upper from Baltimore as well, in current third baseman Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is a power hitter – and admittedly not much else. He had 118 hits in 2011, and 65 of them were for extra bases, with 37 landing over the fences. Unfortunately, he basically strikes out on whatever he doesn’t drive. If he could mature at the plate he would be an unbelievable asset to any team willing to take him on. It also doesn’t help that he’s as consistent in the field as Lindsay Lohan is in rehab. If he is on the Brewers’ radar at all, it should be very low.
If we were planning to talk about affordability and availability, the name being tossed around that would fit the bill best would be Boston minor leaguer Lars Anderson. Anderson is a smart, young, hard-hitting first baseman who is a victim of circumstances. He’s only played 30 major league games in three years, mostly thanks to the fact that Adrian Gonzalez has that position shored up in Fenway Park. Anderson is only 24 years old, and most baseball folks in and outside of Boston believe he has a very bright future. Last year in AAA, Anderson hit .264 with 14 homers and had an on-base percentage of .369 to go along with 14 homers. He’s still hitting well this year in Pawtucket, with a .274 average, nine doubles and a home run. He’s already proven he’s ready for the big leagues, the only question is if the Brewers are ready to make a move on him.
Other, Sillier Rumors
Yes, this is a real discussion being carried out – mostly by bored sportswriters who don’t know what else
to ask about. The minute Alex Gonzalez went down with his knee injury, people began knocking on Craig’s door in the Miller Park offices, asking if he’s talked about coming back. Despite the hilarious similarities it would make between him and Roger Dorn, there doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm from Counsell’s side of this discussion. He hasn’t officially filed retirement papers with Major League Baseball, but I think his batting average from 2011 should more than speak to his career prospects. I love Counsell, I really do, but his place belongs far away from the field of play from here on out.
There are loose – and I mean extremely loose – connections being made between Milwaukee and veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt. Most of them stemming from the fact that Melvin had gone all out before in 2008 to secure Sabathia, and this somehow makes Milwaukee a contender for the former Philly starter. There is nothing substantial behind it, and likely there will not be any. Even though the pieces seem to fit – Oswalt wants to sign near the end of this month and into June, and the Brewers need a long-term solution for Narveson. I just don’t think the money or interest will ever meet.
It’s always fun to play out free agent and trade market rumors, mostly because these scenarios fall somewhere in between fantasy draft and wishful thinking. The problem for the Brewers is that this isn’t wishful thinking, it needs to be a proactive step to secure any chance of success for the 2012 season. The market is a little thin in terms of players who have tools and will travel, but if Milwaukee plays it cool they could end up on the right side of the .500 line again.