Is Edwin Jackson Worth Gamel?

One rumor we keep hearing a lot has the Brewers being interested in the services of Detroit’s Edwin Jackson. Detroit seems determined to cut some payroll, and after a solid 2009 season, Jackson is due for a nice little raise in arbitration this winter. It makes since that the Brewers would be interested — Jackson would still be under team control for two more years, is still young, and would have a chance to continue to grow — possibly living up to some of the hype that had him as a top prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system.

But how much should the Brewers give up if they’re truly interested in Jackson? That probably depends on how much you think Mat Gamel is worth.

It’s not something I particularly agree with, but it seems like the Brewers may be content with Casey McGehee as the team’s third baseman of the future. McGehee did put up some unexpectedly good numbers in 2009, but his high BABIP of .335 seems to suggest that he’s a candidate for regression in 2010. Gamel struggled with a lack of playing time in the majors, and had a hard time finding his stroke after returning to Nashville — as a result, he’s lost a bit of his luster in many scouts’ eyes.

On the surface, a Gamel-for-Jackson swap seems like a good idea. If you think Jackson can be a top-of-the-rotation guy like he was in the first half of 2009 and Gamel can put up Silver Slugger-type numbers some day, it wouldn’t be a bad swap for either team…the Josh Hamilton/Edinson Volquez trade comes to mind in that context. If you think Jackson is more of a #3 pitcher who’s capable of the occasional fluky-good season and Gamel has a hole in his swing that will keep him from being an elite offensive player, it’s still an even trade.

Problems start to pop up, though, if you’re skeptical of Jackson’s recent numbers but think that Gamel still has some big offensive potential. Bill James projects Jackson to have an ERA of 4.75 next season, with a large increase in BB/9 and a decrease in K/9. Part of the skepticism comes from Jackson’s FIP of 4.28 in 2009, and James projects an even higher FIP for Jackson in 2010 — the projected mark of 4.72 is higher than projects for Yovani Gallardo (3.52), Manny Parra (3.93), and Dave Bush (4.67). Not exactly a vote of confidence.

Gamel, meanwhile, is projected to hit .277 with 17 HR, posting an .818 OPS (assuming 455 AB). Not world-beating numbers, but good enough to make you think twice about pulling the trigger on a straight swap. Maybe the Brewers could try to get another player in return, one of Melvin’s patented minor league nuggets?

How do you feel about a proposed Gamel-for-Jackson swap? Feel free to comment below, vote in the upcoming poll, or talk to us on Twitter @BrewersBar.

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