God Bless Bill Hall

I have no doubt that the signing of Mike Cameron will make the Brewers an overall better team. The signing benefits the team on multiple levels. They get Cameron’s glove in center field and can now move Ryan Braun’s fielding problems at third base over to left field. Tony Gwynn should also get a chance to show off his skills as he very well could be the starter in center while Cameron serves his 25 game suspension to start the year.
The biggest move of all involves Bill Hall. For a third straight year he will be expected to field a different position. In 2006, Hall played most of the year at shortstop when JJ Hardy was out with an ankle injury. Last season he transitioned to center field in anticipation of Ryan Braun being the everyday third basemen at some point. Hall struggled defensively in center which led to his struggles at the plate. All of his numbers at the plate dropped off significantly from 2006. Home runs dropped from 35 to 14. His batting average fell from .270 to .254. His on-base percentage fell 30 points and his slugging percentage dropped a staggering 128 points.
To his credit, Hall has never complained once of his constant shifting in the field. He has been a constant team player and has always said he’ll do whatever he needs to do to make the team better. He has faced head-on and subsequently overcome every obstacle put in front of him since his debut with the team in 2002.
Hall is entering the second year of the four-year deal he signed last offseason. He’s still only 28, so he’s just now entering the prime of his career. Look for Hall to settle right in at third base in Spring Training and he should show no signs of rust by the time Opening Day rolls around. While I don’t expect him to ever hit 35 home runs like in 2006, he should have no problems putting up between 20-25 homers while driving in at least 80-90 runs. The key will be for him to stay disciplined at the plate and draw more walks while cutting down on his strikeout totals.
I’m happy Hall is back at a position he feels more comfortable with, but I do have major issues with the Brewers front office jerking him around so much. I understand that outwardly he is fine with all the moves, but one still has to wonder how his psyche can handle being shifted around so much. It’s very easy to cheer for Bill Hall and I will always hope for the best for him as he is someone that constantly works hard to improve his game and cares about the responsibilities he has as a professional athlete.
The Cameron signing also sets a few things up for the Brewers long-term. Bill Hall is now locked in at third for the duration of his contract. Cameron will likely just be here for the one year. I fully expect to decline his option for next year. That would allow Ryan Braun to shift to center field and make room for last year’s top draft pick, Matt LaPorta, to have every opportunity to win the left field spot in 2009.

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