In case you missed it, Taylor Green was finally called up, with the announcement coming after the Brewers’ 5-2 win over the Cubs Friday night.
The cry to call up Green has been growing for about two months, to the point where beat writers had grown tired of answering questions about him. Once it was established that Green wasn’t on the list of PTBNL candidates sent to the Mets in the Francisco Rodriguez trade, the unstated reason for not calling up Green became pretty clear — the Brewers don’t trust a rookie (especially one who isn’t a top-flight prospect) to produce at the level you need in the middle of a pennant race.
Of course, that’s not something that’s unique to just the Brewers. Plenty of contenders across baseball would prefer to play the guy “who’s done it before” over an inexperienced player, even if the young guy could likely outproduce the veteran. It’s just a part of conventional baseball wisdom. Was it frustrating when Green was killing Triple A pitching and McGehee was struggling to get his swing back? Sure. But it’s the route many other teams would take, too.
Green has been hyped up so much that some may be disappointed if/when he doesn’t produce right away. Let’s just be clear right now: no one was saying he’d be a savior. He’s not going to step in and hit like Ryan Braun did in his rookie year. He may struggle to adjust to big league pitching without consistent at-bats like Mat Gamel has. What most of us people advocating the promotion of Green were saying was that he’d at least be capable of hitting better than McGehee, even if he didn’t set the world on fire.
Since the All-Star break, though, McGehee seems to have turned it around a bit. He’s hitting .277/.327/.445 in 39 games since the break, hitting as many home runs in that stretch (5) as he did in the first 89 games he played this year. He’s starting to hit the ball with more authority, and he’s starting to drive the ball to the opposite field more often (something that made him so fun to watch the past couple years).
McGehee isn’t the black hole he was in the offense when the “Free Taylor Green” push started, and he hasn’t even been as bad defensively as he’s been the past couple years (beware the single-season UZR, but his is at 4.9 right now, up from -4.2 last season). By most accounts, Green isn’t a superb defender, but he at least knows what he’s doing at third, which is more than can be said about Gamel.
With McGehee’s turnaround, we probably won’t see Green starting very often. What he could provide is a solid bat off the bench and a capable fill-in when McGehee needs a day off. At the very least, his presence on the roster should cut down on the number of days Josh Wilson or Craig Counsell appear in the same lineup as Yuniesky Betancourt.
Green likely won’t be a superstar, but he is a solid piece to have on a big league team looking to stay hot headed into the postseason. Being called up before September 1 also means Green will be eligible for the postseason roster if the team wants to keep him around in October. The Brewers apparently made several waiver claims on infielders over the past couple weeks, and even if none of those claims bear any fruit, at least the addition of Green helps patch one of the holes this team had heading into the last month of the season.