Monday, July 20, 2009

Brewers Bolster Infield With Felipe Lopez

Struggling to generate consistent offense, and knowing that he needs to give some of his veterans a break once in a while, Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin seized an opportunity Sunday.

By bringing in infielder Felipe Lopez in a trade from Arizona, Melvin is showing some important things.

For starters, he wants to do what he can to improve this team. The Brewers have a very good farm system, especially when it comes to position players. Giving up Triple-A outfielder Cole Gillespie -- a former Oregon State Beaver -- as the primary prospect in a trade is hardly a move to damage the farm system or mortgage the future.

Lopez is a switch-hitter who currently ranks second in the National League among regular second basemen in on-base percentage (.364). His .372 OBP as a leadoff hitter also ranks second in the NL.

Not only can the guy hit, but he is capable of playing three infield positions (second, third, and short), and while he's a free agent after the season, he comes at a very affordable $1.5 million (or so) for the rest of the season.

While Melvin still has to find some pitching to help out the Brewers' beleaguered rotation, Lopez is an immediate upgrade to the offense. Instead of relying on veterans Craig Counsell and Jason Kendall to set the table, now those guys can hit with a little less pressure, and Lopez can take a spot with the Brewers where he's been good at all season.

Meanwhile, the club decided to send down Mat Gamel. The third baseman didn't hit well, struck out a lot, and had his share of "deer in the headlights" moments. However, there's little doubt he'll be back. 115 at-bats isn't nearly enough to judge someone's talent level. The real positive with Gamel is that rumors of his defensive butchery seemed greatly exaggerated. Perhaps a full season at the hot corner would bring to light all the flaws people saw from him in the minors, but there's no reason to think Gamel can't be a player on the Brewers' infield for years to come.

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