Bill Hall Optioned to AAA

I’m trying to think of a different reaction to this other than “it’s about damn time.”  Hall has accepted an assignment to AAA Nashville, where he will presumably work on fixing his timing at the plate.  The only question is where he’ll play.

According to reports, the team asked Hall to accept an assignment earlier this month, but he declined.  It seems as though Hall reconsidered following the Felipe Lopez trade, however, realizing that Lopez can play all of the positions he can.  Hall says he wasn’t told how long he’ll be in Nashville, but the general assumption seems to be he’ll be there until the Brewers return from a West coast road trip.  Because Hall has 5+ years of service time, he had the right to refuse assignment to the minors.

The Brewers have had some success in “fixing” problem players in the minors recently.  In years past, Rickie Weeks and Dave Bush were both sent down to figure out mechanics, and returned with a bang.  This year, Manny Parra has done the same.  Of course, there’s always the failed AAA stint of Derrick Turnbow last year, proving that there’s two sides to every coin.
With Hall being sent down and Jeff Suppan being assigned to the 15-day disabled list, the Brewers have two open 25-man roster spots that have not been filled as of yet.  Of course, this time of year, that raises some eyebrows.  The Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt still believes that odds are less than 50% that the team makes a trade, but considering no corresponding moves have been announced, it’s entirely possible Doug Melvin may be working on the final touches of a deal.  If no deal is made, Haudricourt guesses that Mike Burns and Hernan Iribarren will be recalled.  Burns would be exempt from the “at least 10 days in the minors” rule due to Suppan’s injury.
Hall is under contract through the 2010 season, due to make $8 million next year.  He’s presumably going down to get more ABs, but it’s hard to see where he’ll get them in Nashville.  Assuming Mat Gamel doesn’t replace Hall on the Milwaukee roster, he’ll be manning third base every night.  Alcides Escobar is locked into shortstop.  Hall could conceivably play center field — his position in 2007 — or just man first base for a couple weeks.  It would be foolish to sacrifice the at-bats of a top prospect like Gamel or Escobar just so Hall can get his confidence back, though, and bringing Gamel back up would likely also be foolish.  With Craig Counsell playing so well recently and Casey McGehee playing nearly every day at third, Gamel would have a hard time getting much playing time…just like we saw in his last big league stint.  That’s why Iribarren — who’s been seldom-used in every one of his big league call-ups — would make a bit of sense.
We’ll see what happens in the next day or so, but one thing’s for sure — Hall’s ill-fated swing on a 3-0 pitch last night will be his last in Milwaukee for awhile.  Here’s to hoping he can turn it around, because by all accounts he seems like a good guy and the kind of “glue” guy that younger guys like Prince Fielder have looked up to during their time in Milwaukee.
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