The 2009 season may not be over yet for the Milwaukee Brewers, but they are giving no indication to being real contenders this season. They lack the heart and effort that got them into the postseason last year. It appears now that they are just playing out the rest of the season in anticipation of the season ending.
Looking ahead to the 2010 season, the Brewers will have several positions they need to address. Center field will be of utmost important for the Brewers to fill this season. Mike Cameron is slated to become a free agent, and he may not be brought back.
There are several ways the Brewers could go in center next season, both internally or going outside the organization.
Mike Cameron could be re-signed to a one-year deal. His salary for 2009 was $10 million, but Cameron is no longer worth that type of money. He still plays an above average center field, but he has struggled at the plate significantly since getting off to a torrid start in April. Cameron's value to the Brewers should be no more than $4-5 million for next season.
With the emergence of Casey McGehee and Mat Gamel ready for full-time play, Bill Hall may be another internal option. Hall has the experience of playing a full year in center and next year will be the last year of his current contract with the Brewers.
Hall has been bounced around a lot by the Brewers the past couple of years. It would be hard just to cut Hall loose due to the salary he's owed, so a gamble on putting him back in center for one more year might be the best way to get any value out of him.
The final internal option for the Brewers would be minor leaguer Lorenzo Cain. Cain was drafted by the Brewers in the 17th round of the 2004 draft. He was progressing through the minors nicely and was on pace to make the Brewers in 2010 until a knee injury cost him significant time earlier this year.
He has struggled since returning from the injury. It now appears that he will spend 2010 in the minors as well. One more solid season would help Cain a great deal and make him ready for the 2011 Brewers.
The Brewers could also look outside of the organization for a replacement to Cameron. Any free agent will come at a high cost. A trade may be their best bet to find a low-cost, controllable player.
Nyjer Morgan has done a great job for both Pittsburgh and Washington this season. Since being traded by the Pirates, he is batting .367 with 14 steals in only 30 games. He also covers a ton of ground in the field. There are very few fly balls he can't run down.
Morgan is under control for six more years and would be a great bargain at least until his arbitration years. He would be a huge boost for the top of the Brewers order.
A one-two punch of Morgan and Alcides Escobar would give the Brewers more speed in those slots than any other team in baseball.
Morgan can be held onto by the Brewers until Cain is ready to play full-time or another replacement is found. The Brewers need all the cheap talent they can get with many of their players right in the heart of their arbitration years.
The Nationals don't have a need for Morgan. They are so far away from competing on a regular basis; they simply need to acquire as much young talent as possible for the coming years. The Brewers could likely acquire Morgan for one or two mid-level prospects.
The Brewers will likely have a new shortstop, catcher, and center fielder for 2010. Morgan would give Brewers' GM Doug Melvin the flexibility he desires with his roster.
Fortunately, the Brewers aren't pigeon-holed into only one answer for a replacement for Mike Cameron. Whether they stay in-house or go outside the organization, center field will likely look much different for the Brewers next season.
The Brewers, as currently assembled, have missed out on their chance at greatness. It's now time for the next crop of players to come through, mix with some leftovers of the current group ,and try to go to the next level.