Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Brewers' Outfield Situation

After the integrity of the case against Braun disintegrated, the Brewer's were gifted with the security of having last years NL MVP back on the team for a full season. Transitively they were given another immovable component to their outfield. Last year the Brewers outfield was primarily occupied by Hart in right, Braun in left and Gomez and Morgan platooning center. The signings of Norichika Aoki and Corey Patterson, and the emergence of Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl as legitimate players give the Brewers a healthy surplus of competent outfield talent.
Multi-Personalitied fan favorite Nyjer Morgan
Right now, the excess can definitely be looked at as a good thing. Many people (who I don't agree with) see the Brewers' window of competitive relevance closing. It could be arguable given that logic that you may want an easily maintainable outfield so that in the event that some key player like Braun or Hart gets injured, the blow would be less catastrophic.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that Milwaukee's money situation has improved dramatically thanks to Mark Attanasio's ownership, they are still a good distance from being a financial juggernaut that can have a huge focus on just one part of the team.

Right now the cost is relatively light, but Hart's contract is going up and Braun's hefty paycheck is a decade long investment. Those two players aside, the Brewer's front office has a series of questions that are going to come up when Gomez and Morgan are no longer in team control. On top of all of that, Zack Greinke is currently courting agents to aid in the negotiation of a possible extension that would be pretty steep for the Brewer's bank account. Taking the cloud that is these future expenses in to consideration, a silver lining can be found in the flexibility that a wealth of talent affords you.
New Brewer Norichika Aoki during batting practice.
Braun is absolutely immovable. Even with all of the controversy engulfing his reputation this reputation this offseason, the Brewers front office made it clear that they want to stick by him, and it would be difficult to blame them. Gomez has an insane glove in the outfield and Morgan is a good situational hitter and "spark" if you're in to intangibles, and also assuming the guy pitching is throwing with his right hand. Logan Shafer is doing an excellent job flaunting his range and ability to make solid contact during this spring training, and Caleb Gindl is displaying a decent amount of pop.  Norichika Aoki was purchased off of the Yukult Sparrows after building a resume that included three batting championships and six gold gloves. So what can you do with all of that?

Shafer and Gindl aren't necessarily completely primed for the majors yet, so that alleviates some of the pressure to act on a congested bulk of talent. Having said that, teams in contention don't run out of tweaks or reasons to refine their lineups. Having depleted a decent chunk of their farm system in preparation of their 2011 run, the Brewers don't have much in the way of minor league talent to ship off if they need a key component to put them over the hump. Last July almost immediately after the All Star Game the Brewers sent two minor league pitchers to the Mets in order to secure Francisco Rodriguez and shore up a leaky bullpen. That move may not be possible with the lack of desirable components in the minors, but another contending team may be willing to dish out a substantial plunder for a player like Corey Hart if Logan Schafer makes him less than necessary to vie for a championship. It will be interesting to see what Doug Melvin cooks up if we're on top of our division come July.

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