Monday, August 24, 2009

Hall’s Career as a Brewer Comes to an End

The Milwaukee Brewers dealt Bill Hall to the Seattle Mariners for minor league pitching prospect Ruben Flores (source: here). Seattle grabbing Hall makes sense because Jack Zduriencik, former Brewers Director of Amateur Scouting, is now General Manager of the Seattle Mariners. Brewers Assistant General Manager Gord Ash admitted the Brewers’ hands were tied in the negotiations, which meant getting anything in return, given the circumstances, was lucky for the Brewers.

The Brewers designated Hall for assignment last week, which gave the team 10 days to trade or release him. If the Mariners wanted to wait, they could have signed Hall for the veteran minimum after the Brewers released him. If that happened, the Brewers would have been responsible for all of the $10.5 million remaining on Hall’s contract. Seattle did not want to risk that Hall would sign with a different club, so they worked with the Brewers on this aspect of the deal. Presumably, Milwaukee paid most of the remaining $10.5 million with Seattle picking up a small portion of Hall’s salary. Seattle now owns a team option on Hall for 2011, which consists of $9.25 million and a $500,000 buyout.

This trade comes as no surprise. What does surprise me, though, is how Hall’s hitting statistics have plummeted since signing his contract with the Brewers after the 2006 season. In 2006, Hall hit .270 with a team high 35 home runs and 85 RBI (source: here). Since then, Hall changed positions twice and has never looked the same at the plate. He hit .254 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI in 2007, and .225 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI in 2008 (source: here). Last off-season, Hall had lasik eye surgery, which the Brewers hoped would help him improve offensively. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In 214 at bats this season, Hall hit .201 with 6 home runs and 24 RBI. Since signing a four-year contract after the 2006 season, Hall’s stats have inexplicably nose-dived.

Hall provided a number of unforgettable Mother’s Day homeruns with his pink bat; those are memories that Brewers fans will always cherish. On the other hand, Hall’s offensive statistics tanked once the MLB implemented a rigorous steroid-testing program. Hall was not implicated in the Mitchell Report, and there is no verification that he was on the infamous list of 104 major leaguers that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. At this point, it is mere speculation backed by some suspicious statistics. All the same, his performance has been routinely disappointing. I wish him luck with the Mariners, but I’m ready to move on.

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