Brewers notes: Escobar, Hardy, and Davis

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Some follow-up notes on yesterday’s big shakeup in Milwaukee
* Called up to replace J.J. Hardy at shortstop, 22-year-old prospect Alcides Escobar is making his first career start this afternoon against the Padres. And he’s batting ninth, behind pitcher Manny Parra. Escobar doesn’t figure to be much of an offensive threat at this stage of his career, but he has outstanding speed and because of that my guess is manager Ken Macha likes the idea of a “second leadoff man” at the bottom of the order.
* Meanwhile, Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs notes that by sending Hardy to Triple-A the Brewers can delay his free agency. Prior to the move Hardy would’ve gone past five seasons of service time this year and been eligible for free agency following next season, but if he remains in the minors until September the Brewers would have him under their control through 2011. At this point Hardy staying in Milwaukee is unlikely, but the teams looking to trade for him would also love to get another season out of the deal.
* General manager Doug Melvin is apparently looking to make even more changes, because the Brewers claimed Doug Davis off waivers from the Diamondbacks, giving the two sides a chance to work on a potential trade. Davis pitched for the Brewers from 2003-2006 and said yesterday that “going back to Milwaukee would be fun … I know the fans would be behind me.” However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that trading for Davis “seems unlikely.”

Miguel Cabrera, Dee Gordon win AL and NL batting titles, respectively

Miguel Cabrera
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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera didn’t play in the Tigers’ season finale against the White Sox, but he has officially clinched the AL batting title with a .338 average following Sunday’s action. It’s Cabrera’s fourth batting title in his last five seasons.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon entered Sunday’s season finale with a bit more pressure. He was in a tight race with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for the NL batting title, trailing only by rounding to the fourth place, .3307 to .3306. Gordon went 3-for-4 in a loss to the Phillies while Harper went 1-for-4 in a loss to the Mets. As a result, Gordon officially won the NL batting title with a .330 average. It’s the first batting title of Gordon’s brief career. Hanley Ramirez was the Marlins’ last batting champion, doing so in 2009.

Report: Angels to announce Billy Eppler as new GM on Monday

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels are expected to announce Billy Eppler as their new general manager on Monday. Eppler had been serving as the assistant general manager with the Yankees.

Jerry DiPoto had been the Angels’ GM but he stepped down on July 1. DiPoto later joined the Red Sox in an advisory role, then was named the Mariners’ new GM last week.

The Angels lost to the Rangers in Sunday’s season finale, which eliminated them from contention for the second AL Wild Card spot. They finished 85-77. Most of their regulars are under contract for the 2016 season, but Eppler will have to decide whether to tender contracts to seven arbitration-eligible players while filling in the rest of the roster.