Saturday, August 8, 2009

Casey McGehee: What to Do?

When the Milwaukee Brewers broke camp, they surprised a lot of people when they placed Casey McGehee on the roster over Mike Lamb. No one would have thought that just four months later, McGehee would be protecting Prince Fielder, batting fifth in the Brewers order.

McGehee played his entire career in the Cubs organization. He put up solid, but not great numbers consistently throughout his six seasons for the Cubs. After a brief September call-up, McGehee was placed on waivers by the Cubs after last season. The Brewers picked up McGehee and have watched him deliver this season.

After Rickie Weeks was injured in early May, McGehee was cast into a big role on the Brewers. He started to split playing time at second base with Craig Counsell. He was then thrown over to 3rd base after Bill Hall continued to struggle. He now finds himself in the Brewers lineup consistently.

Although hampered by an injury, McGehee has looked incredible this season. In 67 games, McGehee is hitting .320 with nine home runs and 35 RBI in 193 at bats. His .899 OPS is third on the team only trailing Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

One of the things that GM Doug Melvin liked so much about McGehee was his ability to play so many positions. He has played a number of positions, including catcher, in the minor leagues. He has only shown a nice ability to play defense this season. His range has been hampered by his injury, but he rarely makes errors throwing the ball.

McGehee has surely been a surprise for the Brewers this season. Now, what should we do with him?

Rickie Weeks will be back next season. Mat Gamel is the third baseman of the future for the Brewers. So you are left with a couple of options.

McGehee is under Brewers control until 2013. This means that he is not eligible to a free agent until then. This is a huge reason why McGehee is so valuable. If he was already eligible for free agency, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion, he would probably be gone after the season.

McGehee, 26, has played catcher before in the minors. Could this be an option going forward? The Brewers don't have a can't miss catcher in their system. Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy are probably not going to be ready for a couple of years. Jason Kendall is bad and Mike Rivera (although he is killing the ball tonight) shouldn't be an everyday player. This seems like the most logical place to put McGehee.

The other option would be to trade McGehee. This would be a sell high technique on a player that has never put up the numbers he is this season. The real question is what do you think you could get back? McGehee, by himself, will probably not land you an ace. So would it be wise to package him with J.J. Hardy after this season to land a top tier (2-3 in the rotation) pitcher? It could be an option.

The best thing to do seems to mold him into a catcher. If he is able to give the Brewers some offensive production from the catcher's position, his value to this team is amazing. This is a great problem to have. Who would have thought we would be in this situation when McGehee made this team? Certainly not me.

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