Loss Of Izturis Still Hurts

 Here we go again...
Photo: Matt York/AP

We should all know how this goes by now: The Brewers pulled out a rare victory yesterday, but still managed to bleed wins thanks to one of their starters having to go on the DL. This time, it was shortstop Cesar Izturis, who suffered a strained left hamstring and will be out at least two weeks. In his place, Edwin Maysonet was recalled from Nashville.

I know a lot of people’s first thought when Izturis grabbed his leg was “Izturis? Good.”, but that probably isn’t the case. Izturis has, in many ways, been a symbol of the Brewers’ recent futility: Fans thought they had it bad after putting up with a full season of Yuniesky Betancourt last year, but after Alex Gonzalez (a huge part of Milwaukee’s plan to replace the production of Prince Fielder) suffered a torn ACL, they were left with Izturis, whose characterization as a “replacement-level” player depends on a favorable view of his defense. Unfortuately, despite the minus sign in front of his WAR, he’s still likely better than any other option the Brewers have.

For now, recent waiver claim Cody Ransom is going to start in Izturis’ place. Even if his next 60 plate appearances don’t look like his last 60 (.278/.350/.574 to start the season), Ransom is going to provide more offense than Izturis – he may struggle to out hit the man he’s replacing, but he has some power and an above-average walk rate. The problem is that Izturis was an excellent defender, in the +10 runs per year range, and Ransom has been more of a utility guy, and will almost certainly be below average with the glove. A good run with the bat could make Ransom more valuable than Izturis, but it’s far from a sure thing.

Edwin Maysonet figures to see some time at the position, but he doesn’t figure to be a threat to unseat Izturis once he gets back, either – he was up during the height of Izturis’ incompetence and failed to distinguish himself. He doesn’t hit significantly better than Izturis, and lacks his defensive chops. It would take some serious small-sample magic for him to unseat Ransom, or Izturis when he comes back.

Right now, there is little hope beyond Ransom and Maysonet. Jeff Bianchi currently is on the DL at Nashville, but was hitting well before he was injured – he has hit well enough to be interesting, but doesn’t figure to be up anytime soon, and is really the only infielder in the high minors that has stood out. If the Brewers are going to pull off any kind of trade, nothing is likely to happen for another 5-6 weeks. The Brewers can’t really afford to lose any more talent, and are going to have to count on Ransom, et al. doing a credible job of replacing Izturis’ production. That’s not going to be as easy as it sounds.

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