The shortstop position was a problem for the Milwaukee Brewers a year ago, and general manager Doug Melvin sought to fix it this offseason by signing 35-year-old Adrian Gonzalez to a deal for $2.5 million. I think this is an excellent move, as Gonzalez fits the Brewers’ budget and will be a solid contributor on defense.
Gonzalez plays as good a defensive shortstop as anyone in baseball, and while his bat has never been a huge plus, he can get on the kind of power surges that can key a little mid-summer hot streak. When all’s said and done, a veteran player who’s mastered a key defensive position and give you a bit of help with the bat and do it and two and a half mil per year, is a value-based signing.
You can also make a reasonable case that Gonzalez will be the second-best shortstop in the National League Central, a division marked by question marks at this spot. Here’s a look around at Milwaukee’s competitors…
St. Louis Cardinals: Rafael Furcal—Don’t be fooled by the fact he hit leadoff for the team that won the World Series. Furcal was terrible for much of the year and average at best during his time in St. Louis. Like Gonzalez he’s getting older, and unlike Gonzalez, he’s not a brilliant defensive shortstop.
Cincinnati Reds: Zack Cozart—He’s 26 years old and considered a bright prospect. He hit .324 in the 37 at-bats a year ago, way too small a sample to make any judgments, but enough to spark some excitement for this season.
Chicago Cubs: Starlin Castro—The best shortstop in the NL Central is in Wrigley as Castro gets on base, plays great defense and has some pop in the bat.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Barmes—After two bad years in Colorado he’s trying to get his career back and going on the banks of the Allegheny River.
Houston Astros: Jed Lowrie—Every time he seemed to be ready to produce for the Boston Red Sox he got hurt. Maybe a fresh start and a no-pressure environment will be what he needs.