Milwaukee Brewers Potpourri 6/6
BREWERS NEED TO LOCK UP GALLARDO
Yovani Gallardo pitched another gem for the Brewers last night, going 8 innings in a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. With the win, Gallardo is now 6-2 on the season with a 2.84 ERA and a miniscule 1.08 WHIP. He may just be the best young pitcher this side of the K.C. Royals’ Zach Greinke. Gallardo has been everything the Brewers could have hoped for in replacing CC Sabathia on the mound and at the plate.
There has been a lot of (unfounded) speculation early this season that the Brewers could acquire pitcher Jake Peavy from San Diego. It’s unlikely that Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin could, or would, part with the number of prospects it would take to pry Peavy away from the Padres or that Peavy would even waive his no-trade clause to come to Milwaukee. While it might be nice to see Peavy in a Brewer uniform, I would caution against such a trade for another reason.
Peavy’s numbers at Miller Park are good, but not great. Plus, he is under contract for a number of years at big bucks and any trade would likely involve a renegotiation of that contract raising the ante even further. Those are resources the budget conscious Brewers will need down the road in securing Gallardo’s services. I know the team hasn’t had a lot of luck signing pitchers to long term deals, but I would advocate that the Brewers try to buy out Gallardo’s first couple years of arbitration as they did with Ryan Braun. Unlike Peavy, Gallardo has no history of arm problems and they can control how he’s used in protecting their investment. It could also provide some goodwill with their young star and some cost assurance against the volatile arbitration process.
COULD GAMEL BE THIS YEAR’S RYAN BRAUN?
The other young player who sparked last night’s win over the Braves was rookie Mat Gamel, who came through with three RBI in a start at third base. The plan for Gamel was just to give him some exposure at the big league level and give the Brewers some at-bats at DH through interleague play. But, with the continuing struggles of Bill Hall and the injury to Rickie Weeks, Gamel has an opportunity to force the Brewers to keep him with the team all season.
The question with Gamel, as always, is centered on his defense at the hot corner. Supposedly, Gamel has been working on that with bench coach Willie Randolph, after doing so at the Triple-A level with former Brewer third baseman Don Money. Both of those guys should be good teachers and they reportedly seem to think that Gamel can be at least an adequate defensive third baseman.
So far, manager Ken Macha has only started Gamel against the right handed pitchers that Hall notoriously fails against. But don’t be surprised if Gamel is given a chance to win the third base job outright. Casey McGehee could be another option at third but Macha would like to keep him at second in order to keep from overworking Craig Counsell in the absence of Weeks.
I was concerned last season that the Brewers had to give up minor league prospect Matt LaPorta in the Sabathia trade. At the time, I would have preferred them to deal Gamel instead, due mostly to my skepticism about his defense. But, while LaPorta has struggled some at Cleveland, Gamel has shown very little sign of being overmatched at the plate. Like Braun, he appears to be supremely confident in his ability to hit (a trait that also seems to be shared by 1st rd. draft pick Brett Lawrie). If Gamel can play at least tolerable defense at third base, it would provide a huge boost to Milwaukee’s playoff chances, not to mention the future of the team.
DODGING A BULLET
While pitcher Dave Bush was unable to avoid the line drive of Hanley Ramirez the other night, the Brewers caught a major break that Bush was able to last for 6 innings on yet another night with a short bullpen. It now appears that Bush won’t miss any starts even though he may need to be pushed back a day or two.
It was supposed to be Manny Parra that combined with Gallardo to provide the Brewers 1-2 pitching punch, but Bush has been the one to lay claim to that role. With Parra’s well documented inconsistency and Braden Looper coming back down to earth, losing Bush for any amount of time on the disabled list would have been devastating. Credit to him for gutting it out.
RECONNECTING WITH AN ‘OLD FRIEND’
The Brewers series with the Braves has reminded us of former announcer Jim Powell, who left Milwaukee after last season to take the play-by-play job in his native Atlanta. It still sounds weird to hear Powell’s voice during sound bites of Braves highlights on ESPN radio (or Pat Hughes on Cubs games, for that matter). Nothing against Corey Provus but, we miss you, Jim.