Open Season at the Hot Corner
By: Big Rygg
I know that this news is a couple of days old already, but I wanted to make sure it got touched on here at the Brewer Nation.
As I’m sure you’re well aware by now (or just in case you aren’t) Bill Hall will miss the majority, if not all, of Spring Training this year with a partially torn calf muscle in his left leg. The rehab is expected to take 4-6 weeks which, if it’s the latter, take Hall’s convalesence right up to Opening Day in San Francisco.
Tim Lincecum will be on the bump for the Giants on Opening Day, barring an injury of his own of course, so maybe Ken Macha would have give the start to Mike Lamb anyway, making this a very strict platoon from the get go.
Ken Macha has stated that he will evaluate the players on their merits and performance throughout Spring Training and make his lineup and roster decisions from there.
But again, we know all that.
What we don’t know quite yet is exactly how the team will use the extra reps at the hot corner during the February and March that just became available. That is what I’d like to discuss today.
As is stands now, Mike Lamb and Bill Hall were set to platoon (at least to an extent) at third base. Hall hits right-handed and struggled greatly against right-handed pitching last year to the tune of .174 battingn average. Lamb, hits left-handed and is probably the first option to be the yang to Hall’s yin all season long.
However, now in the absence of Hall from the games and whatnot, where does the team go? Does waiver wire pick up Casey McGehee get all of Hall’s at-bats? Do they give Mat Gamel those turns at the dish which therefore would give him that many more chances in the field to show what progress he’s been able to make this past winter with his glove?
Personally, I think it’s a golden opportunity for Gamel to show what he’s made of. We know the kid can hit, that’s obvious. In fact, if not for an elbow injury that he hid from the organization last year, he might have led the prospect-rich AA team in all offensive categories in 2008.
Gamel, however, led in another category. His 30 errors while with Huntsville in 127 games played translates very poorly…heck, standing on its own merits it’s bad enough. The fact is, one error every four games isn’t nearly good enough to cut it at the big league level. Poor fielding is what led to a position switch for some guy by the of Ryan Braun. All he did was happen to win the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award based primarily, I’m sure even he would tell you, on his offensive prowess. Braun, though, had major trouble adjusting to 3B and was moved to left field where he continue to shine.
Gamel’s situation is different for two reasons. First, there isn’t anywhere else for him to go right now. Mike Cameron is still playing a good centerfield, Corey Hart isn’t going anywhere other than right field for the time being and Braun patrolls LF as previously stated. Suffice it to say, the outfield is full…not that you’d put Gamel in center anyway, but you get what I’m saying.
The only other spot to move a guy with a great bat but heavy glove is first base, but as we also all should know by now, Prince Fielder was signed to a two-year contract which locks him in as the team’s first baseman through the 2010 season.
In other words, what this all means is that 3B is Gamel’s position and to make it to the show with the roster the way it currently is constructed, that’s where he’ll have to play. The good news is that Gamel is committed to becoming a serviceable 3B at worst. He wants to play there which is an important factor in all this.
So, the question needs to be asked, Brewer Nation…
If you were Ken Macha, how would you handle it?