Monday, September 21, 2009

Centerfield in 2010

The Brewers have some decisions to make this offseason. The pitching struggles have been well documented, but another question mark arises in center field.

You will never meet a bigger fan of Mike Cameron than me. His combination of power, speed, range and great eye are rare in CF. He has already stated how much he likes Milwaukee and would sign under market value here. With that said, market value could still be rather expensive. Let's say that Cameron is asking $8-10 million for next season. If the Brewers were to pass on Cameron, that money could be used in the free agent market. The real question is what can the Brewers expect out of Jody Gerut.

Gerut was widely criticized after his trade to Milwaukee. I think it was a combination of his early struggles, coupled with who he was traded for. Before we go any further, let's look at what Tony Gwynn Jr (TGJ) has done while playing everyday in San Diego. In 357 at bats, Gwynn is posting a line of .266/.344/.333 for an incredibly low .677 OPS. Yes, he is fast, but you can't steal first base. TGJ is not an everyday player. He should be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. He is given too much credit for his name alone.

Lately, with playing time has come production. The bat has come around and he looks like he has the ability of an everyday major league centerfielder. Throughout his career he has always been a good hitter with above average defense. I really don't think it is out of the question to expect Gerut to put up a line similar to his 2008. In pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego, Gerut hit .296 in 328 at bats, while posting a .351 OBP. Even more remarkable, Gerut was somehow able to post a slugging percentage of .494, while hitting 14 home runs.

This argument hinges entirely on what the Brewers are getting out of Gerut. Cameron's offensive numbers are going to be there. Gerut's are, at best, not guaranteed. The question is, is the risk of losing Cameron worth the money saved?

Personally I think not. Gerut is going to be back cheaply next season anyway. He would be an excellent option as a fourth outfielder. Could he start? Yes. Should he be given the job over Cameron after what Mike has done the last two seasons? No, in my opinion.

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