Monday, May 21, 2012

The Real Solution At First Base

There has been a lot of talks in recent days about how to solve the conundrum at First Base in Milwaukee. Of course the current rumor is that they are moving Cory Hart from Right Field. Right now the situation is an odd platoon of Travis Ishikawa and Taylor Green.  The simple solution should be move George Kottaras over and call up Martin Maldanado. 

Looking at the current situation, I think it is easy enough to see that those options will not work long term. Green while being a top prospect for the organization in some form, he has a career line of .254/.262/.339 in the major leagues, granted in limited work. A first baseman should be able to slug at least .400 and be a major run producer in the lineup. Ishikawa or Trishi doesn’t fit the bill either. In over 300 games played, the first baseman doesn’t even have 20 home runs. In a full season, he has never even produced more than 40 runs. That production will not help an already struggling Brewers lineup. Even playing at a career high level, Trishi still is only hitting .246, well below his career average.

So, move Cory Hart to first base. Makes sense, the Brewers starting right fielder has slugged over .500 each of the last two season, has 20-30 homer power, and has shown he can be a big time run producer in the lineup. There is no doubt in my mind he could be a serviceable first baseman. The real question is who would replace him? Is it worth filling one hole in a starting lineup only to create another? Your options in right field after Hart include, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki. All are plus defenders, but only Gomez has a truly serviceable arm in right. Morgan and Aoki both have lesser arm strength, and considering your right fielder needs to make the longest throw on the field, they could not play there every day. As late inning fill ins, sure, but not everyday. Next you’re looking at what type of production you want from a right fielder. 

The only right fielder without some pop in the majors is Ichiro. Every other player can hit at least 20 homers and probably slug above .470. Morgan, Gomez and Aoki can’t touch that. Looking at their career slash lines, .283/.343/.366, .244/.292/.361, and in a short sample size .295/.358/.426. None of those lines is the line of a respectable right fielder. 

So without creating another hole, the last option is move George Kottaras over and bring up Martin Maldanado. Kottaras is having a career year. The Brewer should want to capitalize on that and get their best players in the lineup. Hopefully that starts some sort of winning atmosphere when the lineup has a better chance to regularly produce. Kottaras has never had a career slash line of what you would like out of a starting first baseman, but he definitely has power. 

The most games Kottaras has played in a season is 67. In that season he had nine homers and 27 RBI’s. He only had a .396 slugging percentage, but in just 43 hits, 22 of those were for extra bases. That is proof that the lifetime backup catcher can smash. Also, that season Kottaras only had a .203 batting average. Maldanado may be an unproven question mark, but considering it’s a bat that would only be in the lineup every now and again, I can’t imagine it being a large enough factor compared to taking away power or playing an under producing player as a starter every day. I'd rather have a weak bench, than a lineup filled with backups. This is in my mind the most serviceable move for the Brewers to make.


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