Tag: Mat Gamel

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2013 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Milwaukee Brew Crew.

The Big Question: Do the Brewers have enough pitching to contend for a playoff spot in 2013?

The offense isn’t a problem. Ryan Braun slugged a career-high 41 home runs and registered a National League-high .987 OPS in 154 games last season, finishing second only to Giants catcher Buster Posey in the MVP balloting. Aramis Ramirez exceeded even the loftiest of expectations in the first chapter of his three-year, $36 million free agent deal, leading the NL with 50 doubles and posting his best set of power numbers (27 homers, 105 RBI, .540 SLG) since 2008. Norichika Aoki was another good newcomer, hitting .288/.355/.433 with 10 homers and 30 stolen bases in 151 games as a rookie. Carlos Gomez took a big step forward and Rickie Weeks had a promising second half after initially stumbling out of the gate.

The Brewers produced the third-most runs in the major leagues last season — despite losing Prince Fielder to the Tigers over the winter — and the starting lineup looks plenty-stacked heading into the 2013 campaign.

But Milwaukee had a 4.22 staff ERA in 2012 — which ranked 22nd out of 30 — and didn’t make the kind of improvements this offseason that would justify a better finish in the National League Central standings.

Yovani Gallardo is rock solid and Marco Estrada has made significant strides over the past two seasons, but Michael Fiers is probably due for some regression and left-hander Chris Narveson owns a 4.67 career ERA and 1.37 career WHIP in over 394 major league frames. Wily Peralta looked great in his cup of coffee last year, but he had an underwhelming 4.66 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 146 2/3 innings at Triple-A Nashville before his call-up. And it’s not like this club has a crop of electric young starters on the way.

The Brewers boast a strong starting lineup that probably ranks third in the NL Central behind the Cardinals and Reds. Their rotation, however, sits dead last in the division. And it’s going to kill them yet again.

What Else Is Going On?

  • Help for the rotation is one call away in free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse, but the Brewers haven’t had much luck handing out multi-year deals to veteran starters (see: Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf) and would have to forfeit the 17th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft in order to add the 34-year-old Lohse. Giving up a first-round selection doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for an organization that lacks high-impact talent on the farm. Even if Lohse opens himself up to one-year offers, a marriage seems unlikely.
  • The Brewers’ bullpen also needs some upgrades. John Axford was a menace to opposing teams in 2010 and 2011, but he posted a 4.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP across 75 appearances last season while blowing nine saves. And there are no dominant arms accompanying him. Jim Henderson, who finally made his major league debut last year at the age of 29, is penciled in right now as the primary setup man.
  • Corey Hart underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on January 25 and is not expected to be ready to play in major league games until mid-to-late May. The Brewers were hoping to start Mat Gamel at first base in Hart’s absence, but Gamel required surgery two weeks ago for a re-torn right ACL and has already been ruled out for the entire 2013 season. Which leaves Alex Gonzalez — that’s right, the veteran shortstop — as Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter at first.
  • There’s a lot to like about 23-year-old shortstop Jean Segura, who was the centerpiece in last summer’s trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels. Segura batted .304/.358/.413 with seven home runs and 37 steals in 102 games at the Double-A level in 2012 and has been hitting everything in sight this spring in the Cactus League. He shows good range defensively and has a strong, accurate throwing arm.

Prediction: Fourth place in the National League Central.

Alex Gonzalez will probably be the Brewers’ starting first baseman on Opening Day

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Corey Hart is not expected to be healthy until late May. Mat Gamel just underwent his second major knee surgery in two years. So the Brewers have been scrambling for a first baseman and are considering all sorts of different options.

One of those options is Alex Gonzalez, who has never appeared at a position other than shortstop in his 14-year major league career but was asked to take some reps at first base this spring and has impressed the Brewers’ decision-makers so far.

“You either have good instincts or you don’t,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Saturday evening. “Alex has really good instincts. … So, those guys are able to pick up those new positions faster than the guy who may have plenty of tools but doesn’t have the instincts to play them.”

Gonzalez has hit just .243/.277/.383 over his last 682 major league plate appearances, but the 36-year-old boasts a bit of power and the Brewers seem to think his defense at first will be more than adequate.

Gonzalez is 4-for-11 with one home run and three RBI through five Cactus League games.

Corey Hart cleared to ramp up rehab following MRI on knee

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The Brewers aren’t counting on Corey Hart to return until sometime in May, but he received good news on his surgically-repaired right knee yesterday.

According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Hart was cleared to begin intensifying his rehab after an MRI showed sufficient healing in his knee joint. The 30-year-old had surgery in January to repair torn cartilage and smooth an imperfection in the joint surface. While Hart doesn’t need crutches to get around anymore, it’s believed that he’s at least a couple of weeks away from beginning baseball activities.

Mat Gamel was originally slated to fill in for Hart at first base, but he had his second ACL surgery in the past year yesterday. As a result, the Brewers are currently looking at internal options like Alex Gonzalez, Bobby Crosby, Taylor Green and Hunter Morris.

Corey Hart opens his home to Mat Gamel

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Injured Milwaukee Brewer first basemen stick together. From Adam McCalvy of MLB.com:

Sure, it’s cliche to think of Major League teammates as family. But Corey Hart proved today that it can also be true. Hart has already extended an offer for Mat Gamel to move in with Hart and his family for the remainder of Spring Training.

They’re both rehabbing. Maybe more importantly, after yet another big injury right when he was poised to take over a big position, Gamel might understandably feel alienated. I know I would. It’s really cool for a fixture like Hart to invite Gamel into his home like that.

Mat Gamel is out for the season with another knee injury

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Mat Gamel aggravated his surgically repaired right knee over the weekend, but as of yesterday the Brewers seemed optimistic that it was a minor issue and he could resume workouts as soon as today.

Unfortunately because Gamel has basically the worst luck ever Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that he’s going to miss the entire season.

Gamel tore his ACL in May of last year, costing the former top prospect a chance to establish himself replacing Prince Fielder as the Brewers’ starting first baseman. He hasn’t played since and now this latest setback costs him an opportunity to fill in for Corey Hart, who’s out for a couple months with a knee injury of his own.

Milwaukee will likely look into bringing in some first base help, but more than that this just really stinks for Gamel. His prospect stock had dipped to the point that he no longer projected as a star, but at age 27 even carving out a decent big-league career figures to be tough now.