Already facing an uncertain situation at first base to begin the season thanks to an injury to Corey Hart, the Milwaukee Brewers received more bad news on Monday when it was revealed that Mat Gamel will miss the entire 2013 season. He had previously missed the final five months of the 2012 season after tearing his ACL. Gamel was slated to receive most of the at bats at first base once the 2013 season began, but he began to experience some discomfort in the same knee on Sunday and had to be pulled from team workouts. Team officials ordered an MRI which revealed enough damage – it has been speculated that he re-tore his ACL – that he’s likely to undergo surgery once again, causing him to miss the whole season.
Gamel, 27, appeared in just 21 games last season before injuring his knee, batting .246/.293/.348 in 75 plate appearances.
Once viewed as an heir apparent at first base in Milwaukee, Gamel’s career has been derailed since he made his MLB Debut. Hyped as a power threat (despite never posting truly impressive power numbers in the minor leagues), Gamel hasn’t been able to put things together in the Major Leagues. For his career he’s just a .229/.305/.367 hitter in 269 PA over the past five seasons.
Milwaukee is now left to scramble for a solution at first base. Hart is already expected to miss the first four months of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his own knee just a few weeks ago. With Spring Training underway across both Florida and Arizona there are few options remaining on the open market for the Brewers to consider and it would appear that neither Aubrey Huff nor Carlos Lee are likely to end up in Milwaukee. The team could wait and see who becomes available over the course of the Spring, but that makes for a risky proposition if they wait too long to address their need. Looking internal may just be the best path for the team to pursue.
Green has seen 154 PA over the past two seasons in Milwaukee, hitting .207/.266/.343 with 3 HR and 10 2B. The 25 year old former 25th Round Draft Pick (2005) has had a decent, but not overly impressive minor league career. He holds a .289/.370/.452 line in 2,845 PA, having nearly as many walks (306) as strikeouts (399) in 692 games. Most of that time, however, has been spent as a third baseman. Now the transition from one infield corner to the other is commonly made, Green doesn’t have much experience at first base. He’s appeared at the position just 27 times in his minor league career (and just 18 of 47 MLB games to date).
Morris is coming off a big year with Double-A Huntsville. The 24 year old hit .303/.357/.563 with 28 HR, 40 2B, and 113 RBI in 571 PA last season. As Colin Bennett of Reviewing the Brew described him, he’s “a machination of hype that rivals anything we’ve seen around a prospect in quite some time”. Morris has yet to appear above Double-A, however, which could work against him no matter how strong a Spring he has. Jumping over Triple-A can be done – and the Brewers do have some experience in the area, as Bennett reminds us, considering Jean Segura made a similar leap a year ago – but it remains to be seen if the team will rush Morris into the lineup.
Given the state of their current options, expect the Brewers to spend the next few weeks seeing just what Green and/or Morris are capable of offering. There will be multiple players available at various points in the coming weeks as teams start to shape their 25-man rosters for Opening Day. Some of those place on waivers because they are out of options could ultimately prove to be Milwaukee’s first baseman on Opening Day.