Thursday, August 13, 2009

4 Big Moves by Brewers General Manager

Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin made four bold moves yesterday:

1. he fired pitching coach Bill Castro, replacing him with Triple-A pitching coach and former Brewer Chris Bosio;

2. he sent starting shortstop J.J. Hardy to Triple-A;

3. he designated Bill Hall for assignment; and

4. he brought up Alcides Escobar, the top prospect in the Brewers farm system.

Melvin went 3 for 4. The only move I disagree with is firing Bill Castro. The Brewers pitching has been inconsistent this season, but that can’t all fall on Castro’s shoulders. A little over two months ago, all reports were that Castro and the pitching staff were meshing well (Source: here). Castro spent 17 years as the Brewers bullpen coach, he deserved more than a four-month tryout as pitching coach. By firing Castro, Melvin is trying to make Castro the scapegoat when Melvin is the one that needs to look in the mirror. He is the one who assembled this below average pitching staff.

The three other moves were long overdue. The only downside I see to sending Hardy to Triple-A is that it hurts his trade value in the off-season. Hardy can’t become a free agent until after the 2010 season, which gives the Brewers some options. Hardy should play some second base and right field at Triple-A. Rickie Weeks is injury prone, and Felipe Lopez is a free agent after the season. Mat Gamel looks like the third basemen of the future for the Brewers, so unless Alcides Escobar flames out at shortstop in the majors, Hardy’s best chance to play for the Brewers in 2010 will be at second base or right field.

Designating Bill Hall for assignment hurts Mark Antanasio financially. Hall is scheduled to make $6.925 million this season, $8.525 million in 2010, and has a $500,000 buyout on his 2011 team option. That means designating Hall costs roughly $10 million. Unfortunately, for all parties involved, Hall’s playing over the last season and a half forced Melvin’s hand. What the future holds for Hall is somewhat of a mystery. If Hall wants to play in the major leagues again, he will have to dramatically improve his hitting. If that doesn’t happen, Hall might have played his last major league game.

Last, but certainly not least, Melvin called up Alcides Escobar, the top prospect in the Brewers minor league system. Bringing up Escobar harkens back to the Brewers calling up an 18 year old Robin Yount (Source: here). Every scout raves about Escobar as being a complete player that can bat leadoff. If that is the case, he is the perfect panacea for the Brewers. Bringing up Escobar in the middle of a pennant race will give the Brewers a chance to see whether Escobar can live up to his hype.

For better or worse, August 12, 2009, marks a very interesting, and possibly historic, day in Brewers history.

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