Despite demotion, Gamel's Milwaukee stint a success

Leave a comment

Mat Gamel had to know the bad news was coming the moment he heard about
Felipe Lopez’s acquisition from Arizona. While he had been pretty
useful as a part-timer for the last two-plus months, the Brewers
appeared to be looking for an excuse to send him back down, if only
until Sept. 1. They certainly weren’t going to reduce his role further
when they had the opportunity to play him regularly in Triple-A.

At least Gamel did get much more of a taste of the majors than
originally expected. The 23-year-old was called up on May 14 to help
out as a DH in AL parks during interleague play, but as a result of
Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist injury, he ended up spending more
than two months in the majors. Unfortunately, the Brewers never did
commit to him during that time, though perhaps they would have if not
for Casey McGehee’s sudden emergence.

Gamel returns to Triple-A with a rather undistinguished
.239/.336/.407 line in 113 at-bats. However, that hardly tells the
whole story. When the Brewers started using him at third base, he hit
.267/.341/.493 in 75 at-bats. His struggles came during those games at
designated hitter and as a pinch-hitter off the bench. Also, he was
very likely unlucky to have such a modest batting average. According to
Baseball Info Solutions data, Gamel hit line drives in 27.9 percent of his at-bats, a higher percentage than any batting title qualifier in either league.

Of course, defense was the main knock on Gamel as a prospect. He
committed 53 errors in 128 games in the Florida State League in 2007
and then 32 in 131 games between Double- and Triple-A last year. Most
believed he’d be forced to the outfield, much like Ryan Braun before
him. However, he was quite a nice surprise for the Brewers at the hot
corner. While he did commit four errors in 23 games, he showed plus
range, leaving him with a slightly above average UZR.
It’s too early to say he won’t be a liability, but the Brewers should
be willing to keep him at third next year based on his showing.

And Gamel will be a regular next season. The Brewers have refused to
discuss him in trade talks, and McGehee and Bill Hall aren’t going to
be long-term obstacles. By sending him down now, the Brewers are
weakening their team a bit, but it’s probably worth it with the
likelihood that they’ll save millions in the future. Since Gamel was
called up just 5 1/2 weeks into the season, he likely would have been a
super-two player had he remained in the majors for the rest of 2009 and
all of 2010. The additional month in the minors will guarantee that he
misses the cutoff.

Ichiro Suzuki tops Rickey Henderson as the oldest starting center fielder

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marlins’ outfielder Ichiro Suzuki set a new record for the club on Sunday afternoon, and all he had to do was take the field. The 43-year-old made his second start of the year in center field, becoming the oldest starting center fielder in Major League Baseball since 1900.

Suzuki made his first start in center field back on May 6, but came 15 days shy of beating the record Rickey Henderson established in 2002 when he patrolled center field at a sprightly 43 years and 211 days old. During Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs, Suzuki’s 43 years and 246 days set a new record for aging outfielders.

Naturally, Ichiro commemorated his moment in history by doing what he does best — proving that age is just a number. He reached on a fielding error by Addison Russell in the first inning and came home to score on a Marcell Ozuna RBI single to pad the Marlins’ three-run lead. His defense wasn’t too shabby, either, as he gloved a shallow fly ball in the second inning to bail Edinson Volquez out of a bases-loaded jam.

The Marlins currently lead 3-2 in the seventh.

Indians sign Michael Martinez to minor league deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s something irresistible about Michael Martinez, at least where the Indians are concerned. Six weeks after parting ways with the utility infielder/outfielder, the Indians re-signed Martinez for the fifth time in three years, committing to a minor league contract that will see the 34-year-old in Triple-A Columbus this week. He was designated for assignment by the Rays last Thursday after slashing just .077/.172/.077 through his first 29 PA with the club.

Martinez bounced around the American League last season, logging four games with the Red Sox after the Indians jettisoned him in a trade for cash considerations. He returned to Cleveland on waivers and finished the year with a cumulative .238/.267/.307 batting line, contributing one home run and a .574 OPS in just 106 PA. He found more consistency in the minors, touting a .288 average, 11 extra-base hits and 12 RBI in 114 PA for Triple-A Columbus last season, but didn’t receive enough playing time to develop his stuff at the big league level.

Martinez will rejoin fellow infielders Chris Colabello, Nellie Rodriguez, Josh Wilson, Ronny Rodriguez, Todd Hankins, Yandy Diaz, Eric Stamets and Giovanny Urshela on the Clippers’ roster.