The Mat Gamel Experiment is under way. Now, we will see where the best hitting prospect in the Brewers' farm system fits into the major-league flow.
After hitting .336 with 31 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville, the Crew called up the third baseman following Tuesday's game and optioning slugger Brad Nelson, who struggled in his first sustained stint in the majors, going 0-for-21 (Nelson opted for free agency rather than playing for Nashville).
The plan for Gamel is for the right-handed hitter to pinch-hit before next weekend's interleague series at Minnesota, where Gamel will presumably DH for those three games. Playing the field likely won't happen because the 23-year-old has not been even average in the field.
This is a similar road to a regular major-league job to the one Prince Fielder took.
The problem is where to play Gamel once he arrives for good, which, barring trade or injury, will be next season. Third base would seem to be up for grabs considering manager Ken Macha's preference for lefty-hitting Craig Counsell over righty-hitting Bill Hall. Gamel could be a solution there, although defense is a major concern.
There is also the popular theory of trading Fielder, who is signed through 2010 and will likely test free agency and not return to Brew City, for a frontline pitcher.
Finally, a more logical solution would be for Gamel to shift to the outfield, a la Ryan Braun (after a disastrous defensive rookie year at third). With Mike Cameron's contract up after this year and probably in line to earn another $10 million to $14 million next year if he keeps up this offensive pace, he should be too much for the Crew to fit into their budget for 2010. Corey Hart has the ability to play center, opening up one of the corner spots for Gamel.
Braun has the arm to play right, so Gamel could take over in left. This would make an already good offense a potentially explosive one.
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Written by Steve Drumwright