Gord Ash, on whether he thinks Mat Gamel could play first base in Milwaukee next season:
“I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable … The only thing he doesn’t have is that experience. If we are going to be a Major League contending club, we are going to have to make sure that is a pretty important part of our lineup. I’m not saying he couldn’t do it. But I don’t think at this point you could suggest that is going to be the case. … At least you have alternatives. Whether it is third, whether it is first, he even played a little in the outfield. When he comes to Milwaukee, he can be inserted into the lineup in a few different places, which is always a good thing.” — Nashville City Paper, h/t Adam McCalvy
No wonder Gamel’s previously been frustrated with his direction in the organization — that looks like one hell of a mixed message.
On one hand, this seems to be the closest the organization has come to explicitly saying Prince Fielder is gone and Gamel is being pegged as the heir at first. This seems like a good thing. On the other hand, they apparently don’t trust him enough to actually say that the job will be his, as they dropped the “experience” bomb.
Right now, it seems like they’re basically saying Gamel will have a chance to win the job next year, probably in spring training. They’ll (probably) sign a vet with a small portion of the money that will become available by letting Prince walk. If Mark Kotsay has taught us anything, that vet will (probably) be given a long leash and ample opportunity to get into the lineup.
That’s the most frustrating thing about the recent fascination in the front office with “veterans” — how are guys like Gamel supposed to get that Major League experience without a chance to play? It’s not like the 2012 Brewers will be an inexperienced group without Fielder. Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Corey Hart will all have significant experience, Jonathan Lucroy will be entering his third full big league season, and whoever steps in at shortstop will presumably be a veteran because there are no options in the minors. They could probably withstand the “inexperience” of a 26-year old Gamel that has appeared in 75 big league games.