After another embarassing loss to the San Diego Padres, this time in the form of a 13-6 loss in Miller Park, general manager Doug Melvin made a couple of drastic moves in hopes of turning things around.
Pitching coach Bill Castro was fired and replaced with AAA Nashville pitching coach Chris Bosio while the struggling J.J. Hardy was optioned to AAA Nashville and replaced by stud shortstop Alcides Escobar.
For Castro, it was the end of an 18-year run with the Brewers that saw him as the bullpen coach for the first 17 seasons with the club. Unfortuantely for Castro, he bit the bullet for a pitching staff that ranks second to last in the National League in ERA, OPS, WHIP, and the number of quality starts.
Things were not made easy for Castro as the Brewers went into the season with an average staff at best and have recently been riddled with injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan. When players like Carlos Villanueva, Mike Burns, and Seth McClung are making starts for your team, it never makes it easy on the pitching staff.
Melvin is hoping that the move can be a wake up call to the pitching staff that their play has been horrendous this year and that is has hardly gone unnoticed.
Castro’s replacement, Bosio, will have his hands full but also has some experience with the position at the big league level. In 2003, he was the pitching coach of Lou Piniella’s Tampa Bay Rays squad. In 2001, he served as the pitching coach for Triple-A Tacoma (Seattle) and in 2008 was the pitching coach with Double-A Chattanooga (Cincinnati).
It remains to be seen whether he is the long term solution as the pitching coach, but the other move that the Brewers made could very well be long-term.
For as long as he has been on the scene, Alcides Escobar has produced and flashed an outstanding glove. This season in Nashville, he was hitting .298 with with four home runs and 34 RBI’s in 109 games for the Sounds. He also has 42 stolen bases, six triples, and is getting on base at a .353 clip.
As good as his offensive numbers have been this season, Escobar is known more for his glove at shortstop. A potential Gold Glove candidate in the future, Escobar may have just unseated J.J. Hardy for good.
Hardy, who will turn 29 in a week, struggled mightily all season with a .229 batting average and just 11 home runs. He was enjoying his best season in the field, but it wasn’t enough to overlook the struggles at the plate. He was still able to be optioned to AAA, and with the third base situation still a mystery for next year, Hardy’s days at Miller Park might not be over.
The last of the Brewers’ three moves today involved sending Bill Hall down to AAA Nashville and calling up 27-year-old outfielder Jason Bourgeios.
Hall has struggled mightily ever since being awarded a huge salary extension following his 2006 campaign, hitting just .201 in 214 at-bats this season. He homered in last night’s game but it was apparent the Brewers just did not have a spot for him. Having moved from center field to third base and then back to stints in right field, it was time to move on.
Bourgeios has done very well in Nashville this season, posting a .316 batting average with two homers, 41 RBI’s, and a .354 OBP. Known more for his speed, Bourgeios should see some spot starts in right field over the course of the season.
The moves for the Brewers will completely shake the clubhouse and hopefully be a wake up call to the whole team. Hardy was a fan favorite to many and well liked in the clubhouse, while Castro had the longest tenure with the Brewers of anyone in the organization.
More than anything, these moves are a step towards 2010 when the Brewers feel they can start over and try to compete once again. Going back to my article from yesterday, Bourgeios has the potential to start in center field in 2010 if he makes a good showing the rest of the season.
Hall has probably seen his last days in Milwaukee, which is tough to deal with when you consider the money he is set to make for the Brewers this season and next. But a new leaf needed to be turned over, and whenever your top prospect enters the organizaton it definitely says something. Welcome to the Alcides Escobar era, everyone.