Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Should the Brewers Sign Josh Hamilton?

Recently, speculation has begun to surface on the topic of whether or not the Brewers will sign Josh Hamilton. A lot of people have different feelings on the situation but I feel there is a more important question to ask: SHOULD the Brewers sign Josh Hamilton? I feel that the answer to this question is a very simple:

Yes, a Brewers lineup with Hamilton hitting between Braun and Ramirez could be deadly, and yes the crew could use his left handed power bat. There are a lot of good arguments one can make for why it would be valuable to have Hamilton on the team. I don’t think anyone could logically argue that Milwaukee wouldn’t be a better team offensively with him on the roster. However, one must consider the financial situation that a Hamilton signing would put the team in. We are greatly in need of a number 2 starter. Yes, I realize that I have myself argued that Brewers fans should appreciate what they have in Mike Fiers, but that still doesn’t make him a number 2 starter in my eyes. I see Fiers as a number 3 at best. This means that the Brewers need to go out and get a quality starting pitcher to pair with Yovani Gallardo atop the rotation.

Doug Melvin has already stated that the team plans to add starting pitching in the offseason and most believe that this will come via free agency given the team’s upcoming flexibility with payroll with the salaries of Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, and Francisco Rodriguez, among others, coming off the roster.

So one might ask, what do I think the Brewers should do with any free agency dollars that they have to spend? In looking at this question I can come up with the following: Go for Greinke. Go all in for Greinke. The guys is an ace. We have all seen first-hand what Zack can do as a starting pitcher and, even better, we have all seen that he can do it in Milwaukee. I think that adding a guy like Greinke to the rotation will do more for the team than adding a bat like Hamilton to the lineup.

Hamilton’s primary position is center field. This would pose a problem as Carlos Gomez has just recently started to show why many regarded him as a future star early on in his career. After hitting .260 with 37 stolen bases, 19 home runs and 51 RBI in just 137 games, Gomez is finally proving he can be a the team’s regular center fielder going forward. On top of his progress at the plate, Gomez also remains one of the top defensive center fielders in the game. I simply don’t see much value in “upgrading” from Gomez to Hamilton considering what is certain to be a considerable price difference between the two.

Some have argued that Hamilton could play in right field, allowing Gomez to remain the everyday center fielder. This poses a problem as well, however, as Norichika Aoki is on a very team friendly deal, making just $1.25M in 2013 with an option for the following season. Aoki surprised many in 2012, batting .288 with 10 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and 50 RBI while also playing above average defense in right field. I make the same argument here: I don’t see much value in upgrading from Aoki to Hamilton considering the payout needed to bring Hamilton to Milwaukee.

When looking at the rotation, the Brewers are in a great place in terms of quality young arms in the system. Guys like Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, Chris Narveson, and Tyler Thornburg could all reasonably command at least a decent look at a rotation spot next season with budding stars Hiram Burgos and Jimmy Nelson arguably not far behind. While it is certainly comforting to have so many quality young arms in the organization, I really believe that the Brewers need to add a top of the rotation starter if they want to contend in 2013.

The reality of the situation is that if the Brewers are able to sign Josh Hamilton, there will be little to no money left over with which to acquire a top flight starting pitcher (unless Mark Attanasio were to give Doug Melvin the green light to significantly add to the payroll – an unlikely scenario). I simply believe that the upgrade from Mike Fiers to a guy like Greinke atop the rotation is greater than what the team would get in upgrading from Gomez/Aoki to Hamilton in the outfield.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

- Joe Norton (@JoeP_Norton)

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