Okay, so the outfield now is finally set. I really like the signing of Mike Cameron to man centerfield. Even though he hits from the right side, he brings a superior glove that has been sorely needed. The contract length is for 2008 with a club option for 2009, and the price is much much less than what anyone thought that he would sign form. It's kinda scary, look at the stats Torii Hunter put up, and then look at Cameron's line. Pretty similar, eh? Besides hitting righty, he'll also miss the first 25 games of the year as a result of the drug suspension he was tested positive for after last season. That will leave most likely Gabe Gross, Gwynn Jr., and the wiley vet Gabe Kapler fighting for the playing time in centerfield early on this season.
Here's a conversation I had with a friend of mine:
Dave: Really, were moving Bill Hall again? Although I do like him at third. but what's the point in signing an over the hill Cameron for one year - is this really the solution??? Don't know how I feel about this, I have a feeling one year from now the entire left side will shift again.
Hot Rod: Ok, here's my thinking.... there wasn't much he could do. The only other option Melvin really could have done was to wait out the Santana / Bedard / Joe Blanton sweepstakes (why those trades are taking forever is another rant) and trade 1 or 2 or the excess starting pitchers he has now -- Capuano, Bush, or Vargas for either a 3B that uses an actual glove, or a LF that actually takes a walk. But since the dominos are taking forever to fall in place for some reason, Melvin had to look elsewhere since time was a factor - ultimately he had to tell Braun which position he would suck at defensively in 2008 so he could try and maybe figure out how to use a glove a little better....
I think signing Cameron was okay, especially since it's only a 1 yr deal w/a club option for '09 - but it depends on how much the deal is worth. I sure as h#ll hope it's not Gagne-esque $10M money, hopefully around $6M. The big loser is Bill Hall. What, are they planning on having him play a different position every year? SS? Check. CF? check. 3B? check. Utility? Check. While Hall made big strides defensively w/the glove in CF last year, Cameron has 3 Gold Gloves and is much better. If Hall is even league avg @ 3B defensively, it'll be a huge defensive upgrade.
Cameron in CF > Hall in CF
Hall @ 3B > Braun @ 3B
Braun in LF > signing Luis Gonzalez
There are gonna be a lotta strikeouts in that lineup next year, but Cameron also took some walks over his career as well. So, Melvin actually upgraded the team defense dramatically while not having to trade anyone of significant value. It'll be nice to have those extra chips available come trading deadline too.
Dave: I don't think they gave braun enough time a third - he's a great athlete, much like Weeks, who's to say he couldn't improve with time. what happens when we want to bring LaPorta up next year or maybe even this year? I just think you'll see more shuffeling again next year. Your right, Hall gets screwed again.
am I an idiot but why not just move Hall over to left? Is Braun really that hopeless at third?
Your right though, its going to improve the defense, (why are we so confident Braun can play left spectacularly? maybe its that easy of a position). I'm just not doing jumping jacks over this move, but its not like we lost anything.
Hot Rod: agree w/ya - there really wasn't an easy solution to the problem. If you were to look at any advanced defensive metrics - you'll see that they all basically agree that Braun had the worst defensive year of any third baseman in the last 100 years. So even if he does improve drastically - that's a big if - that'd only get him to say, maybe league-avg if he's lucky. I think the big thing w/his D last year was his footwork which lead to a bunch of Chuck Knobcock-like throws to Fielder. In the outfield, he won't have to make as many precise throws. Plus his spead will allow him to run down a lot of balls in gaps (hopefully).
I was actually thinking the same thing as you the past couple months about getting a stopgap for the outfield to transition into Laporta, but when I actually realized just how bad Braun was last year, I sort of shifted gears. I think it's safe to say he's in the OF for the rest of his brewer career. Two options when Laporta hopefully pans out: depending on when he is ready, you could do some more shifting and make Hart your CF and leave Hall at 3B finally, or if it takes him a bit longer, Fielder may have already priced himself out of MIL w/Boras and is traded, meaning Laporta could go back to his natural position of 1B.
But yeah, moving Hall over to LF would have been fine, but I think it shows Melvin ultimately didn't / doesn't want Braun anywhere infield dirt, unless he's running the bases. My opinion....
Dave: I agree with your last thought, Melvin really has no confidence in Braun playing infield. It just seemed like he explored a lot of avenues this off-season to get him out of there. I do like hall at third - can we just leave him somewhere so he doesn't have to think about defense and he can put up his 90 RBI's
Hot Rod: Agreed!! Vinny Rottino, he is not. My only concern now is that I hope Braun doesn't fall off a cliff offensively in LF and idiots start chiming in that it's because of a defensive change that led to an offensive regression. I think that might have been some of Hall's problem last year before he hurt his ankle. And at either position, I sure don't see Braun putting up the numbers he did last year for a full season - Al Pujols, he is not either! But if he is, I sure won't complain.
Just hope this gets them over the hump and I can waste hundreds of dollars on playoff tickets this year.