With Mat Gamel officially done for the season with a second consecutive torn ACL in his right knee the Milwaukee Brewers will have to act fast in order to replace the first baseman.
The 27-year-old Gamel reinjured the knee this past week but it wasn’t revealed that he had actually torn the muscle until today. He was made the starting first baseman for the beginning of the 2013 MLB season while the true starter, Corey Hart, recovers from knee surgery that will force him to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. This is obviously very frustrating news for Gamel who was named the everyday starter last year before tearing his ACL the first time around.
Now, the Brewers have a huge decision to make as to how they will replace Gamel in the lineup. The way I see it there are two solid options and Milwaukee would be foolish not to utilize either player. Manager Ron Roenicke has already stated he would like to see Alex Gonzalez get some playing time in at first during spring training in case he had to back up Gamel. Of course, with Gamel now out Gonzalez could become the starting first baseman until Hart returns.
It is also possible to make Gonzalez the starting third baseman and move Aramis Ramirez over to first for the time being. This decision would not make much sense considering Gonzalez has never played third before and Ramirez has never suited up for first, but if Gonzalez felt more comfortable continuing to play on the left side of the diamond then it might be something Milwaukee could consider.
In my opinion, the best option is to give prospect Hunter Morris a shot at some quality playing time in the majors. I have Morris ranked No. 5 on my list of the top 10 Brewers prospects for the 2013 season and I believe he could have a huge impact for the team. The 24-year-old left-handed batter hit .303 with 28 home runs, 113 RBIs, 40 doubles and six triples in Double-A last year. He was named the 2012 Southern League MVP for his outstanding performance.
Many believe Morris is still a little ways away from contributing in the big leagues but I think this is a great opportunity to see what he can do. Obviously, the Brewers will have to be careful because the last thing they want to do is ruin his confidence. However, after the numbers he put up last year it would be good for him to face a new challenge. The only concern is his 117 strikeouts last season, which is something that could happen frequently in the majors. At the same time, the strikeouts may not be a factor and Morris could spray the ball all over the park.
Taylor Green is another player that spent time at first base last season and is someone Roenicke will give an opportunity to in spring training to see if he can be the man for the job. In all honesty, Green might be the safest bet Milwaukee has right now to play the position.
As far as picking up someone in free agency to play first base for a few weeks, I believe that is a terrible idea and a waste of money when the Brewers have very capable players to line up at different positions along the infield.