When shortstop Alex Gonzalez went out for the season with a serious knee injury, the Milwaukee Brewers were forced to rely on light hitting Cesar Izturis as his primary replacement. Izturis was signed for his defensive skills, and has lived up to his good field, no hit label. With Izturis' batting average hovering around .200, the Brewers claimed former Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Cody Ransom off waivers in the hope he would be a better hitting shortstop than Izturis or his backup, Edwin Maysonet. Maysonet was sent down to Triple A Nashville to make room for Ransom.
The 36 year old Ransom hit .269 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games with Arizona. Those numbers aren't bad; however, his lifetime batting average is just .226 in 248 Major League games dating back to 2001. That doesn't generate any excitement; still, I'm fine with this move. The Brewers could not go the rest of the way with Izturis as the everyday shortstop, and with Ransom off to a relatively good start this season, I think he's worth a try.
If Ransom doesn't work out, the Brewers do have another shortstop at Nashville who could be worth a look. Jeff Bianchi started out the season at Double A Huntsville where he hit .351 in 19 games with the Stars. He was then promoted to Nashville, where he hit .333 with a home run and five RBIs in his first 10 games with the Sounds.
This is the first time in Bianchi's career that he has played at the Triple A level, so it would probably be wise to see how he performs there over a longer period of time before calling him up to Milwaukee. However, if Ransom doesn't perform and another waiver pickup or trade isn't made, the Brewers may have few alternatives other than to promote Bianchi. He's someone to keep an eye on as a possible shortstop of the not too distant future.
Estrada to disabled list, Parra likely to start
The Brewers placed starting pitcher Marco Estrada on the 15 day disabled list with a strained quad muscle, and recalled reliever Mike McClendon from Nashville rather than a starting pitcher. It looks like the plan is to move left hander Manny Parra into the starting rotation. I'd much prefer Parra stay in the bullpen, as he's pitched reasonably well in relief and was not very good in his last couple of seasons as a starter.
Unfortunately, the Brewers' options here are again limited. None of the starters at Nashville are pitching well, and while Tyler Thornburg is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA at Huntsville, I think at this point he needs to pitch more innings in the minors and not be rushed to the big leagues as a short term solution. Moving Parra into the rotation for perhaps four starts may be the best available alternative.
If Thornburg continues to pitch well at Huntsville, I think he'll be promoted to Nashville sometime over the summer, and could be called up to Milwaukee when the rosters expand in September. For now, I think he should remain in the minors.
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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- Cesar Izturis
- Cody Ransom