J.J. Hardy Sent to AAA, Bill Hall Released as Brewers Shake Up Roster

Ryan CardarellaCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Bill Hall #2 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the field  against the New York Mets at Citi Field on April 19, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers' brass have seen enough.

After dropping 23 of their last 35 games and doing little at the trade deadline to stay in the wild card race, the Brewers dropped the hammer on Wednesday, demoting shortstop J.J. Hardy to Triple-A Nashville, firing pitching coach Bill Castro, and releasing utility man Bill Hall. 

The team has underachieved at the plate all year, with Hall and Hardy being two of the biggest culprits.

After two highly productive seasons at the plate, Hardy has hit just .229 with reduced power this season, and the team finally decided to have a look at one of their prized prospects in Alcides Escobar, who was called up to take Hardy's place, according to JSOnline.

Escobar has great speed, a decent bat, and a stellar glove, and could slide into the lead-off or two-hole nicely in the future.

The move comes just seven weeks before Hardy would earn the right to refuse a demotion to the minors.

Bill Hall hasn't hit since receiving a four-year, $24 million contract after his 35 home run campaign in 2006, and has been close to dead weight on the roster since.

He never seemed to recover from being moved around the diamond after his big year, and has appeared lost at the plate ever since.

He has 10 days to accept his demotion, or be traded or released.

Castro appears to be the scapegoat for a team that boasts the second-worst ERA in the National League, though one could definitely argue that he wasn't given much to work with.

While he wasn't a difference maker, I'm not sure that even miracle workers like Dave Duncan or Leo Mazzone could have patched together that rotation and overworked bullpen for an entire season.

Injuries to starters Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan, along with the lack of quality arms to replace them, appear to have done Castro in.

Triple-A Nashville pitching coach and former Brewer Chris Bosio will assume the same gig in Milwaukee.

After a flurry of significant moves, here's hoping that the Brewers take the youth movement a bit further and see what they have at catcher as well.

Jason Kendall may call a good game (a debatable asset), but he is an absolute liability at the plate, and a poor defender at this point as well.

Veteran leadership is all well and good, but batting .228 with no pop just doesn't cut it with the talent Milwaukee has behind Kendall.

Milwaukee needs to play Mike Rivera and catching prospect Angel Salome to determine what they will have in 2010.

The team would also be well served to get stud third baseman Mat Gamel some additional big-league at-bats as well so they can figure out what his future is with the club.

He was a strikeout machine earlier in the season, and a month and a half of seasoning would be good for his long-term prospects.

It's a shame to say, but it may be time to look ahead to 2010 for the Brewers. They have struggled through the easiest part of their schedule and the pitching staff looks tired and worn out.

It will be exciting to see how Escobar acclimates to the show, and what moves Milwaukee makes in the coming weeks as they decide whether or not to stay in the race.

Perhaps the club can turn its summer swoon into a building block for a deep playoff run this time next season.