Brewers re-sign infielder Lamb; RP Coffey

Lance LeQueAnalyst IDecember 9, 2008

(parts of story courtesy and

The Milwaukee Brewers made a pair of re-signing's these past couple days, keeping infielder Mike Lamb and relief pitcher Todd Coffey.

Lamb, 33, finished the 2007 regular season with Milwaukee after he was released by the Twins five months into a two-year, $6.6 million contract. The Brewers are believed to have committed something close to the league minimum of $400,000 for Lamb, and the Twins will be on the hook for the rest of the $3 million they guaranteed him for 2009.

The Brewers are seeking left-handed bats this offseason and they liked what they had in Lamb, who hit .273 (3-for-11) in 11 games with the Brewers. He was not eligible for the postseason roster because Milwaukee didn't acquire him until Sept. 5.

He's likely to platoon at third base with Bill Hall in 2009. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Monday that prospect Mat Gamel—another left-handed hitter—will also get a chance to win playing time.

Lamb is a .277 hitter in parts of nine seasons with the Rangers, Astros, Twins, and Brewers. His best years were in Houston, where he had a 14-homer, 58 RBI 2004 season and a career-high .307 batting average in 2006.

Coffey, 28 and a right-hander, was excellent after the Brewers claimed him off waivers on Sept. 10 to bolster the bullpen for the final three weeks of the regular season. He worked nine scoreless appearances—spanning 7 1/3 innings—and then traveled with the Brewers throughout the National League Division Series, even though he also wasn't eligible for the postseason roster.

He finished the season 1-0 with a 4.39 earned run average in a combined 26 games with Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

Coffey will earn an $800,000 base salary next season, plus a $200,000 bonus if he makes 70 appearances. Coffey reached that threshold once, in 2006, when he pitched in 81 games for the Reds.

"It was a real easy decision because I want to be a Brewer," Coffey said. "They believed in me last year. This is a good deal."

In parts of four Major League seasons, Coffey has a 4.46 ERA in 222 relief appearances. He won't be a free agent until after the 2011 season.

My Take

A Lamb-Hall platoon might work out until Gamel is ready to play a significant amount of time for the Crew. It probably won't be pretty, but it's a much cheaper solution. The free agent pool of third basemen is quite thin, so the Brewers will either need to deal with what they have, or make a trade to solidify their infield.

Coffey, as well as recently signed Jorge Julio, could end up playing a significant role in a rebuilt Brewers bullpen. Salomon Torres has retired, and Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota, and Brian Shouse are free agents, leaving many of Milwaukee's late-inning roles up for grabs. I'm still hoping for the Brewers to make more moves to bolster the bullpen—a very weak spot for the team, right now.