Back in December of 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent Aramis Ramirez to upgrade their third base situation and to help make up for the drop in run production that would occur following the departure of Prince Fielder. It would be unrealistic to assume Ramirez could match Fielder's numbers but he has been very productive as the Brewers' cleanup hitter and is among the club leaders in most offensive categories. Through games of August 12th, Ramirez was second in batting average (.292), third in home runs (15), and second in RBIs with 70. He had a National League leading 37 doubles. Not bad, especially considering that Ramirez is a notoriously slow starter who was hitting just .218 on May 19th.
Earlier in his career, Ramirez was not considered to be a particularly good fielding third baseman, but that hasn't been the case this season. In 99 games at third, Ramirez has committed just six errors and a fielding percentage of .971. Among regular National League third basemen, only Philadelphia's Placido Polanco was better (two errors, .990).
Overall, the addition of Ramirez at third base has paid off for the Brewers, both offensively and defensively. McGehee had a career year in 2010, but hit only .223 with 13 homers and 67 RBIs in 2011; he also committed 20 errors in 147 games. Ramirez is signed through 2014 with a mutual option for 2015, so third base is set for the immediate future. I don't think the Brewers will necessarily keep Ramirez for that entire time, but I don't see them trading him until a third base prospect like Taylor Green is ready to take over the position.
Where will Mat Gamel play in 2013?
Corey Hart has settled in as the regular first baseman for the Brewers. In theory, he's filling in while Mat Gamel recovers from his season ending torn ACL injury. However, Hart has been excellent defensively at first base, with just one error in 66 games. He's also having a decent season with his bat, and the move to first has allowed Norichika Aoki to get in the lineup as the regular right fielder. Looking ahead to 2013, I'd like to see the Hart at first, Aoki in right combination continue. Hart is proving to be a fine first baseman, Aoki is a better defensive right fielder than Hart, and both hit well enough to be in the lineup every day.
If Hart does become the regular first baseman in 2013, Gamel would be the odd man out. Gamel has played both first and third. When the Brewers signed Ramirez, it signaled they were not interested in Gamel playing third. He was basically handed the first base job after Fielder left, but was injured after playing in just 21 games. With Hart and Ramirez at the corners, Gamel may be stuck as a backup infielder and pinch hitter in 2013.
Hart is signed through 2013, so Gamel could try to win back the regular first base job in 2014 if Hart left via free agency. That may not work out either. The first baseman of the future in the Brewers' organization may be Hunter Morris, who is currently at Double A Huntsville. Morris, who turns 24 in October, was hitting .300 with 22 homers and 93 RBIs in 117 games through August 12th. Morris will no doubt move up to Triple A Nashville in 2013 and could be ready for the majors by 2014. I think the Brewers will try to trade Gamel before then, probably in the upcoming offseason.
A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak has been a fan of the Brewers since they moved to Milwaukee in 1970.
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- Aramis Ramirez
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