Mat Gamel Rumors

NL Central Links: Matheny, Little, Fielder

Earlier tonight, the Cardinals hired Mike Matheny as their new manager, despite the fact that he's never managed at any professional level. Here's some more on that and other news from around the NL Central:

  • Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com calls it a "fascinating hire"and a tough job for Matheny to follow a legend that went out with a title. Knobler also wonders if the Cardinals will hire an experienced bench coach for their rookie manager, something the White Sox didn't do with Robin Ventura (Twitter links).
  • Former Red Sox and Dodgers manager Grady Little is an possible candidate for such a role, tweets Knobler.
  • Matthew Leach of MLB.com tweets that he hasn't covered a player in the last 10 seasons who was "better-regarded by EVERYONE" than Matheny.
  • The Brewers' financial situation has changed drastically since the club offered Prince Fielder a five-year, $100MM extension in the spring of 2010, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Several players have been extended or traded for since then, and a big salary for Fielder no longer makes sense. Haudricourt says some in the organization feel it's time to let Mat Gamel have a shot at first base. The 26-year-old hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers in Triple-A last year.

Melvin On Brewers’ Offseason

The Brewers’ season is over and while GM Doug Melvin wishes his club were in the World Series, he’s proud of its accomplishments. "There's just too many good things that happened this year for me to be hanging my head,” he said, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here are more details from today’s press conference via Haudricourt:

  • Melvin and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio will meet in early November to discuss what kind of offer they can make free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
  • The Brewers aren’t concerned about Shaun Marcum’s health, though the right-hander struggled in the postseason.
  • Melvin said Yuniesky Betancourt was “a better player than what his critics said.” The Brewers have a $6MM option ($2MM buyout) for the shortstop in 2012 and Melvin declined to say whether they'll pick it up.
  • Melvin explained that he would like to improve defensively without sacrificing on offense.
  • He said the Brewers will seriously consider giving Mat Gamel a chance to make an impact in the Major Leagues if an opportunity emerges (i.e. Fielder signs elsewhere).
  • The Brewers haven’t talked about moving Corey Hart to first base.
  • Melvin said he’ll check in with free agents LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito. Francisco Rodriguez is likely to sign elsewhere, probably as a closer.
  • Melvin said Casey McGehee can still be a good player, despite his disappointing 2011 campaign.
  • Craig Counsell hasn’t told the Brewers whether he intends to play again next year, but it sounds as though Melvin would have some interest in re-signing him. Melvin also expects to speak to Jerry Hairston Jr. and his representative.
  • Mitch Stetter, Manny Parra and Josh Wilson are non-tender candidates, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained this week.

Brewers Notes: Braun, Fielder, Gamel, Mitre

The latest on the Brewers on a night that owner Mark Attanasio, a native of the Bronx, watched his hometown team beat up on the club he owns… 

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Jack Curry of the YES Network that Ryan Braun could be the Brewers' answer to Cal Ripken Jr. or Derek Jeter (Twitter link). Braun, who is signed through 2020, has a .308/.390/.554 line with 16 homers this year. 
  • Braun has been among the most productive hitters in the league, but he told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that Prince Fielder "has probably been the MVP in the National League" so far. Fielder has a .305/.426/.611 line with 21 homers and a league-leading 68 RBI.
  • Melvin told Knobler that Fielder has had a "great attitude" this year. The GM isn't going to distract Fielder, a prospective free agent, with extension discussions any time soon.
  • Mat Gamel, who may take over at first base if Fielder leaves as a free agent, told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he remains focused on 2011, not Fielder's possible departure.
  • The Cardinals have minimal interest in Sergio Mitre, who was designated for assignment by Milwaukee yesterday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch (on Twitter).
  • The Brewers would like to strengthen their bench, potentially with a right-handed hitter, according to Knobler.


Quick Hits: Pirates, Millwood, Astros, Gamel

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Brewers Looking At Keepers, May Try To Trade Fielder

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt has some updates for Brewers fans as the organization looks to the future. It appears that Corey Hart's recent three-year extension may only be the beginning as the Brew Crew tries to set itself up for future success.

The Brewers will offer an extension to Rickie Weeks, who's enjoying a fine rebound season after an injury-shortened 2009. The former number-two overall pick is hitting .272/.368/.485 with 23 home runs and seven steals on the year. His speed numbers may be down, but Weeks still remains a power/speed combination and an offensive force at second base. Weeks will need to replace his agent, and once he accomplishes that, an extension will be offered.

One player who the Brewers likely won't be able to agree with is Prince Fielder. The Scott Boras client was offered an extension in the neighborhood of five years and $100MM, but the Brewers completely cut off talks when they learned he was seeking nearly double that amount — likely looking for a deal similar to Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180MM contract. Haudricourt says that the Brewers won't advertise it for now, but they're likely to shop Fielder this offseason to bolster their rotation.

Losing Fielder leaves a hole in the offense, but it's possible the club is looking to replace him with Mat Gamel, or move Hart to first base and place Gamel in right field. As Haudricourt points out, Hart was drafted as a first baseman, and his 6'6" frame is conducive to the position.

It's possible that Lorenzo Cain dethrones Carlos Gomez as the club's everyday center fielder. The Brewers were clearly looking for more than Gomez's .286 OBP when they traded J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for him this past offseason.

If Milwaukee does indeed try to make Fielder available, there will be no shortage of suitors. While the free agent market does feature Adam Dunn, the majority of others consist of injury risks, fading stars, players coming off career years, or some combination of the three.


Rosenthal On Braves, Marlins, Lee, Cubs

The Braves are interested in adding a right-handed hitting outfielder, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth have not hit well for the Braves, and Jason Heyward's now slumping. Eric Hinske has played tremendously, but can't be expected to post an OPS near 1.000, so the Braves may deal from pitching depth for a bat. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:

  • The Marlins are actively seeking relief help.
  • Rosenthal says the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers – yes, the Brewers – could be interested in Cliff Lee this summer. The Brewers could provide the Mariners with a hitter like Corey Hart or Mat Gamel and trade Lee to a third team for younger pitchers.
  • The Cubs would love to deal Kosuke Fukudome, but he will earn more than $21MMM between now and the end of 2011, so trading him will not be easy. Click here for more from Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi on Fukudome's availability.
  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will probably look to acquire a reliever this summer.

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Mariners Could Trade Morrow, Talking Extension With Gutierrez

1:19pm: Earlier in the week Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the club isn't currently talking trades with the Mariners. A deal is still possible, but the Brewers have shown no inclination to trade Gamel.

10:59am: The Mariners are trying to trade one of their young players and lock another one up long-term, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal hears that the Mariners are trying to trade Brandon Morrow for a corner infielder or DH. The M's may re-visit talks with the Brewers about a Mat Gamel for Morrow swap. 

One of Franklin Gutierrez's agents tells Rosenthal that the Mariners are "making progress" with the outfielder on a three or four year deal. Gutierrez isn't scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2012 season, so a four-year deal would buy out a free agent year. By comparison, Curtis Granderson signed a deal that pays him $3.5MM, $5.5MM and $8.25MM for his three arbitration years. 

Discussions with Felix Hernandez have not developed as much. Rosenthal notes that the M's have not ruled out bringing back free agents Adrian Beltre and Russell Branyan.