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Build the 2009 Brewers Infield...


twobrewers

In the minor league & trade proposal forum a lot of posters seem to feel pretty good about our young infield in Huntsville. At the same time, I am growing very frustrated with our defense in the infield at the MLB level.

Brewers 2008 Infield
1B: Prince Fielder - OPS of 1.000 last year. OPS around .800 this year. Great player. Defense has hurt the Brewers several times already this year. Will not sign a long term contract with the Brewers. Much needed LH bat.
2B: Rickie Weeks - His defense is horrible. His offense comes and goes. Frankly, his offense is good enough for a 2B. The problem is that his defense is so bad it negates his offensive production. (He just can't seem to turn double plays)
SS: J.J. Hardy - Solid defender, w/o a ton of range. His offensive production has taken a somewhat expected drop. He is the only infielder doing anything defensively.
3B: Bill Hall - Already has 11 errors this year. He is batting .155 against RHP. Platoon with Russell Branyan. The shine is really starting to wear off of Billy Hall. He might be best served as a super sub.

 

I would prefer to promote most of Huntsville next year. We can trade the players we don't need. (Hopefully for top flight pitching) This would be my ideal 2009 infield.

Brewers 2009 Infield
1B: Matt LaPorta - I would imagine he can put up a .800 OPS at the big league level. He should also play better defense than Fielder. He has 40 HR potential, but I don't know that he will ever be a 1.000+ OPS guy like Prince. Still, adding improved defense for a slight OPS dropoff seems pretty reasonable.
2B: J.J. Hardy - I am confident that Weeks will never be adequate at 2B defensively. He misses at least one play per game that a quality defender would make. Obviously, this would require a transition for J.J. Hardy. But I think he should be a decent 2B - and at least a quality double-play partner.
SS: Alcides Escobar - His bat has improved. He still doesn't slug much. I would expect him a struggle in his first year at MLB offensively. (Maybe hit around .250/hope for an OBP of .300) But his defense is very good. He would make a great double play partner with J.J. Hardy.
3B: Mat Gamel - He had 53 errors last season. This year he is at 11 errors. Bill Hall has 11 errors. (Gamel's fielder percentage has increases .100 this past year) He has improved his defense this past year. Bill Hall isn't a very good defender anyways. At the very least, Gamel would be an upgrade over Halls offensive ability. (Plus a LH bat - of course, w/o Prince he would be the only LH)

That is an improvement defensively at 1B, 2B, and SS with a slight drop-off at 3B. The offensive drop would be pretty minor. In addition, this move would also allow the Brewers to use the assets obtained from Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks to really rebuild the pitching staff. (Hall is starting to get expensive - not sure how much value he has)

If the Brewers continue to struggle, changes are going to be made. I am sure the pitching staff will see plenty of new faces. But the OF seems completely set at two positions already. (And we can pick up an option on Cameran as well)

Am I the only one who thinks the IF needs an overhaul?

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I pointed out this winter that Hall is a natural SS, and that he did not have much experience at third base. He should get better, but to expect him out of the box to be great there was really asking a lot.

 

As for his splits, coming in to this season, he was hitting .262/.310/.461 vs. righthanders. I don't think he should be pigeonholed as a platoon player based on 133 ABs. He still has 6 HR vs. righthanders and more rbi, 16, than Hardy has total.

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Trading Hardy and moving Hall to shortstop would work better assuming Gamel can play 3B which is still an open questions. Escobar isn't anywhere close to ready. Hardy anywhere but SS is a liability because he isn't a good hitter. Assuming a converted catcher can play 1B adequately is also a big question.
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I wouldn't be to comfortable with three unproven rookies in the infield and lineup everyday
Unless the Brewers resign Sheets or another top notch starter, I don't see 2009 as a playoff year. I think 2010 would be a more realistic shot.

 

You undervalue RW's defense, also.
Probably, since I can't actually value it any lower. Do you honestly not worry with every ball hit to him?
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Community Moderator
That infield might lead us somewhere in 2011, but in 2009, an infield with 3 rookies will lead us exactly where Florida's rookie-heavy team got them in 2007--last place.
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Here it is, in my opinion:

 

1B Prince Fielder (i think the Brewers will trade him in the 2009-2010 offseason)

2B Hernan Irribarren (i love the kids intangibles. He's not a "stud" by any means but this club lacks "glue" players and I feel "The Hurricane" can solidify our infield defense and do the winning things that we need)

SS J.J. Hardy (Escobar bears no threat to him at all. I strongly question whether Escobar will ever hit enough to be a major league player, at this point I feel a "best case" comparison is Cesar Izturis)

3B Rickie Weeks (He's got the arm. He struggles with the turn at second base. I think his defensive skills have always been best suited to third base).

 

Chances I think this will happen? Zero. But, if I were in charge of the Brewers this is what I'd do. More likely? Fielder, Weeks, Hardy and a trade pickup at third base. Hall is getting more and more frustrated and I believe he'll be traded away.

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Weeks' defense has been improving and he makes plays with his feet that offset his gaffes, so he is serviceable with plenty of upside. His stats should improve offensively, so I see no urgency in dealing him.

 

Hardy has not regained his form yet, so its hard to judge him. With Escobar about ready, Hardy could be the odd man out, but probably not to start 2009. Maybe 2010.

 

Gamel is definitely not a clear upgrade defensively over Hall. Hall in his first year there..no surprise about the errors. Meanwhile, Gamel is showing steady improvement. I would expect next year Hall is slightly better defensively, but Gamel will have the better bat.

 

I think that could make hall the super-utility or trade bait.

 

Prince vs LaPorta would likely be a wash next year. LaPorta was not a great defensive 1B and he's been away from that position. His height doesnt offer much advantage for reach.

 

I'd like to see LaPorta start at first next year, but mainly bc that would mean we had better pitching.

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I would probably keep the same infield again. I don't think the problems lie on the position players of the team, so pitching imo is much greater weakness.

 

If a team blows me away on an offer for Prince, I trade him and start either LaPorta or even Gamel at 1st. (Is Gamel a somewhat realistic option to play there? You'd think he'd be fine even if he's a hack at 3rd.)

 

In a perfect world, I'd like to give the stud prospects a full year at AAA next year, taking more of the same path Hart did. And then make room for the prospects after the 09 season.

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Given Hardy had a public fit about hitting 7th
I don't remember reading anything about Hardy complaining about hitting 7th. Do you have a link?

 

nor do I think they give up on Weeks yet.
This is Weeks 4th season with the Brewers. In my opinion, we are past the point of "yet". I just think this is pretty much the Rickie Weeks we are going to get.
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maybe I'm too high on 'prospects', but his average and power have been creeping up and he's just 21. With his off-the-charts range, he will turn a ton of singles into outs and could all but eliminate ground balls finding a hole on the left side. If he can hit .270ish, they should find a spot for him as he will more than compensate with his feet...
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Hardy did complain about his spot in the lineup, and Yost promptly moved him to the 2-hole for a stretch.

 

I don't see them moving Gamel to first, because he has shown steady improvement defensively and he fills an organizational need. They will give him time to develop there I believe and he should become serviceable.

 

If they were to replace Prince with Gamel at first, you have essentially closed the door on any opportunity to bring up a talented hitter with weak defense, and we know how the org likes to draft those guys. You will have an outfield of Braun, Hart, and LaPorta for a very long time, which isnt bad, but its subpar defensively and there is no room to bring in a new OF that can hit. By putting LaPorta at first, you can bring up/in a speedy CF or yet another big bat.

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If they were to replace Prince with Gamel at first, you have essentially closed the door on any opportunity to bring up a talented hitter with weak defense, and we know how the org likes to draft those guys.
Well said. I think Gamel would be a great 1B. He plays a decent 3B, and certainly has the height to play a great 1B.

 

But the Brewers need to keep that spot open for anyone who can't field.

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Prince Fielder at 1st: I would not even consider trading Prince for at least another 2 years. Dude hit 50 bombs last year.

Rickie Weeks at 2nd: His defense would be above average if he could just turn a gosh darn double play

Alcides Escobar at SS: Why not give him a shot? It'd be fun to watch him on defense. Maybe not so much fun on offense, but you never know.

JJ Hardy at 3rd: Definitely not the long term solution here, but it's a lot easier than going from SS to 2nd. Question is, will he hit enough? My guess is yes.

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Am I the only one who thinks the IF needs an overhaul?

 

No. It's a good topic to discuss.

 

Weeks' defense has been notably better this year, IMO.

 

Maybe. I think Weeks's D is still poor, though.

 

I think the problem is Weeks+Fielder. We could probably live with one or the other, but I don't think the combination of the 2 is likely to get us to the playoffs

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We should not rush our players out of town, only to rush our prospects up to the big leagues. I think we give this core team at least one more season after this, and then maybe make some changes. See what Melvin can do this offseason to patch together a more competitive pitching staff.

 

LaPorta should be contributing everyday very early in 2009, but that's about it. Gamel could spend a year at AAA working on his defense, maybe see the bigs in the second half of 2009. Escobar has stuff yet to prove, if he becomes a starter it shouldn't be until 2010.

 

2009

1B - Fielder

2B - Weeks

3B - Hall (Gamel later in the year)

SS - Hardy

 

2010

1B - Fielder/LaPorta

2B - Weeks/Hardy

3B - Gamel

SS - Hardy/Escobar

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Did Gamel become a good defender and I missed it? Last time I checked he had 11 errors in 49 games (162 game projection: 36 errors). That's an improvement on last year, surely, but still Ryan Braun-esque in the field. Ouch.
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i lkie bill hall at ss, and i would guess other teams do as well--so, either he or hardy need to be traded. i prefer hall at ss, he hit 35 bombs when he played there everday.

 

2009

1b-fielder (after his offseason to get back in shape)

2b-weeks (now batting in the 6 spot in the batting order)

ss-hall

3b-gamel

of-braun, hart, laporta

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Did Gamel become a good defender and I missed it? Last time I checked he had 11 errors in 49 games (162 game projection: 36 errors). That's an improvement on last year, surely, but still Ryan Braun-esque in the field. Ouch.

his fielding percentage has improved significantly, so it represents a significant increase over last year, even if his total numbers are Braun-esque. Hall also has 11 errors.. Anyways, I believe most of those errors came in April (I could be wrong, but it seems he's been at 11 for some time).

 

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Did Gamel become a good defender and I missed it? Last time I checked he had 11 errors in 49 games (162 game projection: 36 errors). That's an improvement on last year, surely, but still Ryan Braun-esque in the field. Ouch.

his fielding percentage has improved significantly, so it represents a significant increase over last year, even if his total numbers are Braun-esque. Hall also has 11 errors.. Anyways, I believe most of those errors came in April (I could be wrong, but it seems he's been at 11 for some time).

 

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