|This poor guy...|
There is "risky"; an adjective used to describe someone gambling something they rely on in order to attain a high reward, and then there is short-sighted, and that's what the Brewers front office is. Mat Gamel's re-torn ACL spells the end of his 2013 season, which hasn't even started yet. Most teams would be panicking if they lost their projected opening day first basemen about four and a half weeks before opening day, and Milwaukee has lost both of theirs, and still nothing.
I can't understand where it's coming from, but some how the Brewers front office are keeping their cool in the face of their own ineptitude. If you think I'm wrong, let's take a second to examine the alternatives to Gamel.
1). Corey Hart
Hart isn't technically a replacement considering Gamel was his backup, but since he's injured too let's start here. After spending the majority of his major career in right field, Hart took over first base in 2012 after Gamel's first ACL tear put him out for the remainder of the season. Hart was injured this offseason (something that's becoming an alarming theme for him) and needed arthroscopic surgery effectively disabling him for 3-4 months. More alarming than Hart's less-than-durable reputation is the fact that second opinion Hart pursued in hopes of revealing a less serious injury actually resulted in a call for season-ending microfracture surgery. While Hart appears ahead of schedule in terms of healing, he still runs the risk of carrying a hidden, serious injury; and the Brewers still don't have a legitimate first basemen in case that happens.
2.) Taylor Green
.184/.265/.340. What else do I need to say? This guy has had plenty of opportunities (117 plate appearances in 2012) to flash what he could be in the majors the way that he did in the minors but it just didn't look put together at all. Even at his best I don't see Green coming close to filling in
Gamel's shoes, let alone Hart's.
3.) Bobby Crosby
The 2004 AL Rookie Of The Year hasn't played Major League Baseball since 2010. The reason? After his rookie campaign (which by ROY standards was a modest one) he declined steeply and was eventually deemed unworthy of a sign until the Brewers inked a minor league deal with him this offseason. Decent bench presence? Sure, but not an every day MLB player. If you're tempted to use the ROY accolade in his defense at all, I am gonna play the Chris Coghlan card.
4.) Hunter Morris
2012 Southern League MVP Hunter Morris has had approximately zero big league plate appearances. While his development is impressive, it indicates next to nothing about his readiness to play in the bigs. Even suggesting that Morris could substitute as an every day first basemen for as long as it takes for Hart to get healthy completely ignores the history of prospects who are rushed to the majors. This doesn't take in to account the fact that it's pretty asinine of a team to start the arbitration clock before necessary. Best case scenario: Morris comes up and surprises everyone and we have a slightly more fun first basemen to watch for a month. The worst? He rushes to be major league ready and we waste really good potential, all because we don't have a back up.
5.) Alex Gonzalez or Martin Maldonado
The reason I'm bracketing these two together is that they are both big league players who are ready to play on opening day, but not first basemen. The argument could be made that Maldonado would be a good first basemen because he's had a very small history with that position at a big league level. It could also be argued that Gonzalez may be a good fit their because he's an aging shortstop with a big body who could quickly learn and even potentially thrive at first. I'm going to go ahead and make the argument that either call is a totally stupid idea. Building depth in one department creates a void in the other. Our lack of depth at short is exactly WHY we re-signed Gonzalez.
Realistically, that's it, that's what Milwaukee's working with. Why didn't the Brewers make moves to provide legitimate depth? I can't answer that question. It would be one thing if Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder were the only two free agent first basemen on the market, then the logic would lay in finance. That is not the case here. Casey Kotchman just signed a minor league deal with the Marlins, Lyle Overbay was wooed by the Red Sox after Milwaukee put in a weak offer for him, and perhaps most ridiculously is that the Brewers let Travis Ishikawa walk after being a reliable guy off the bench last year. These are NOT moves that would break the bank, but they are moves that allow a team to stay afloat in case the inevitable happens and a player gets hurt. This is a very rough way to start a season.