When Mike Cameron signed a two-year deal with the Brewers before the 2008 season, few thought he would be around long enough to see the end of the deal.
Many thought Cameron would mentor Tony Gwynn for a season and Gwynn would take over in 2009. Some thought Cameron's option for 2009 would be declined and he would become a free agent.
Doug Melvin nixed that idea by picking up the '09 option for Cameron, but then it was thought Cameron would be traded. He was almost dealt numerous times to the New York Yankees over the winter.
However, Melvin got fed up with the games the Yankees were playing with him and ultimately decided to hold on to Cameron for the upcoming season. It may turn out to be Melvin's best offseason move.
While Cameron does have significant holes in his game, he is the best option for the Brewers in 2009, and he will be vital to the team's overall success.
After being suspended for the first 25 games in 2008 for testing positive for a banned substance, Cameron produced at a great clip both at the plate and in the field. He belted 25 home runs in only 120 games, his highest total since 2004.
He also stole 17 bases and totaled 52 extra-base hits.
On the flip side, he hit a mere .243. That wouldn't be so bad but when you also have Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall hitting under .250, it hinders a potentially lethal lineup. Cam also struck out 142 times.
Those numbers left a ton of numbers on base.
Although Cameron made a costly error against the Phillies in the NLDS, he is still an above average center fielder. He covers a lot of ground and makes up for the inexperience of Ryan Braun and Corey Hart in the outfield.
He'll be counted on once again to make both the routine and spectacular play this season.
Cameron turned 36 this winter and is a wily veteran. He is what he is and to expect him to change his game at this point in his career just isn't going to happen. Brewer fans need to learn to accept the bad with the good.
A full season of Cameron will boost the output of the offense. Don't expect an average higher than .250, and he will almost certainly have 150 strikeouts. He will also hit around 25 home runs and steal close to that many bases.
Spring Training this year is very important for the future of the Brewers. It is now thought that Lorenzo Cain will take over for Cameron next season. Cain needs to be in Cameron's shadow as much as possible this spring.
Cameron is respected by everyone in the clubhouse, and Cain can learn more than just how to play the game from Cam.
Cameron understands his time in Milwaukee is limited, but he's smart enough to know that his impact will last far longer than just 2009. His lasting mark won't be an error in the 2008 NLDS; it will be how Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Braun, Hart, and Cain develop both as men and baseball players.
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